Did you know that there are many types of golf courses? Golf is an exciting game to play and watch, but it has so many complexities that it is confusing for some players and non-players. Some of the things that make it a complex game are the rules concerning the golf attire, equipment, and even the golf courses.
One of the misconceptions that people with no knowledge about golf and those new in the game have is that all golf courses are the same. They assume that once you see one, you have seen them all. However, golf courses are not the same. They differ depending on several factors and features such as geographical setting, landscape style, accessibility, and the time it takes to play a complete course.
In this article, we look at the most popular type of golf courses in the hope that the explanation will ease any confusion.
There are three ways of grouping golf courses.
- Access- courses that restrict access to many players while providing preferential treatment to others.
- Size –refers to the number and type of holes in the course. The 18-hole course is the standard course bur there are 9-hole courses and executive courses.
- Setting or design- refers to grouping the courses according to their environment/geographical setting or architectural background.
Leading Types of Golf Courses
1. Links Golf Courses
The most popular, most obvious, and oldest types of the golf course are the links courses. According to golf history, Links courses date back to Scotland, which is golf's birthplace. The word link evolved from 'hlinc'- an old English word meaning ridge or rising ground. The type of land described the hilly, rugged, sandy, and extremely windy UK coastal regions, which were home to the famous Scotland links.
The early Scotland links were built between farmlands and the coastal region lacked trees around them, features that exist to date. Links are vast with fast fairways, treeless, and slow greens. Besides being the most popular, they are also the most challenging courses to play because of their unforgiving nature and natural elements.
Some claims say that the links courses are the best for testing the ability of a golfer. Some of the most famous links golf courses outside the USA are the St. Andrews Old Course in Scotland, Lahinch, and Royal Troon, among others in the links association.
The features that make links courses recognizable anywhere around the world include:
- Their location is in the coastal areas
- Other than thick grass, they have very little of any other vegetation
- The majority of the features are all-natural, with a few man-made ones to recreate naturalness
- The terrain is very sandy, with strong winds
- Lack of water hazards
Some of the most famous links courses in the US are:
- Pebble Beach-California
- Cypress Point California
- Pine Valley New Jersey
- Bandon Dunes-Oregon
- National Golf Links of America- Southampton
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2. Parkland Courses
Parkland courses are the second most famous golf courses, and unlike the links, they are inland-built. The majority of them are amazingly beautiful, with lush green grass and abundant trees all around the course. Playing in these courses feels like one is playing in the park, thus the name. Besides the immaculately manicured grass, the courses feature many man-made features such as roughs, ponds, and bunkers.
The lands and conditions where you find parklands courses are unfit for golf because they lack the natural elements required in a golf course. Due to undulation and lack of natural land movement, it becomes costly to maintain the soil and grass in parklands courses. However, the course is flat and less challenging than the links are. Augusta National Golf Club-Oregon is arguable the most famous parklands curse in the world.
Other favorite parklands courses in the USA are:
- Oakland Hills-Michigan
- Oak Hill County Club-New York
- Plainfield Country Club-New Jersey
- Aronimik Golf Club-Pennsylvania
- Inverness Club-Ohio
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3. Desert Courses
Desert courses, as the name suggests, are found in the arid and harsh desert environment. They differ depending on which part of the world they are in, but their location features remain the same. Playing on a desert course is challenging and intimidating, especially for those used to the luxuries greens of the parklands courses.
Players have to contend with sand, rocks, and cacti that mostly lead them to make several errant shots before they get it right. Other dangers include critters, jumping cholla, Gila monsters, tarantulas, scorpions, and even snakes. During the winter, the desert gets extremely cold, with frost delaying most of the games.
Even with the harsh conditions, some of the desert courses are extremely beautiful, with contrasting desert scrub and lush fairways.
Some of the most famous desert courses in the USA are:
- Quintero Golf Club-Arizona
- Coyote Springs Golf Club-Nevada
- Desert Willow Golf Resort- California
- Sedona Golf Resort-Arizona
- Coral Canyon Golf Course-Utah
4. Heathland Courses
When you hear of heathland, the word that comes to mind is heath, which describes a lowland area with gorse, heather, and bracken vegetation. This description aptly explains the environment under which heathland courses are built. The sites have nutrient-poor and acidic soils with features that look almost similar to those found in links courses.
The terrains are undulating and sandy, which makes it challenging and sometimes intimidating for players. Heathland courses are a cross between link courses and parkland courses. However, unlike the links courses, they have a few trees, with most of them being pines. They lack the manicure look of the parkland courses, though, and their style is links-based.
The majority of heathland courses are in Europe with only about 20 to 30 in the USA.
Some of the best heathland courses in Europe are:
- Sunningdale Golf Club New Course
- Sunningdale Golf Club Old Course
- Woodhall Spa Hotchkin
- St. George's Hill
- Walton Heath Old Course
Other types of golf courses worth mentioning include
- Stadium/Championship Courses
- Sandbelt Courses
- Municipal Courses
- Executive Courses
- Regulation Courses
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Wrapping it up
The types of golf courses spread across all parts of the world are as varied as the golf players are. Players prefer some courses to others because of the features, accessibility, and localities, among other things.
Casual golfers who cannot afford to visit the prestigious parkland courses or the challenging links courses stick to their municipal courses and enjoy golf as the next player. Links, Parklands, Desert, and Heathland are the most famous golf courses, but even the others have their dedicated players, and they also boast excellent features.