The Different Types of Golf Courses

It’s true that it’s very rare that one golf course is much like another. It’s not like a chess board, where the playing conditions will always be the same. You may find that with your current golf skills, you may do well with some types of golf courses, rather than with others. 

Sometimes you may want to describe a favorite golf course to your buddies, and that starts with knowing just what type of golf course that is. If you’re planning a career in golf course design, then this is crucial information as well. 


This is an oft-used term to describe a golf course, as you may have heard various golf courses described as “link courses” or “links-style courses.” But technically, this is a specific term that only mostly found in Scotland, England, and Ireland. One example is the Old Course at St. Andrews, along with Lahinch and Royal Troon. 

The term actually derives from the Old English word hlinc, which means rising ground or ridge. It refers mostly to the sandy area along the coast. The links course started on such ground because it wasn’t really good for anything else (such as for agricultural use). 

Basically, the original links course must follow 2 basic conditions:

  1. It must be along the coast. Because of that, you have strong winds to factor in. 
  2. The ground underneath must be sandy. The sandy soil drains nicely, so the ground is usually firm. 

Nowadays, people also regard links courses as having lots of undulating ground, with very few trees and lots of dunes. Many “links-style” courses have these features nowadays, even when they’re located far from the coast. 


The term heath refers to open, uncultivated land, generally in Britain. Golf came to be played in these areas as players tried to play in places other than near the coast. 

The usual vegetation here is heather, along with gorse and coarse grasses. The style is quite similar to links courses, with its wide-open areas. You also have the same type of undulating ground. 

These courses have the heather and gorse as part of the play. Most of these courses have few trees, and they’re mostly pine trees. But some grow in trees as the years pass by. 

A lot of the best golf courses in the UK are heathland courses. These include the Alwoodley Golf Club, the Sunningdale Golf Club, and the Working Golf Club. 


This is another type of inland course built far from the sea. It’s a very common golf course design, especially if you watch a lot of tourneys in the PGA Tour. These courses generally come with plenty of trees and nicely lush grass. In fact, they’re called parkland courses because it feels and looks like you’re playing golf in a park. 

Many parkland courses are built in areas that aren’t exactly perfect for golf. The soil and the grass are harder. They’re more expensive to maintain. There’s very little lateral land undulation. 

But that doesn’t mean the golf course will turn out bad. In fact, the legendary Augusta national is a parkland course. 

Because the land isn’t really built for golf, the golf course designer has to think of new ways to add a bit of excitement to the golf course. That means putting in built-up rough, ponds, and dug bunkers. Of course. A parkland course is also generally extremely well-maintained.


This is a type of golf course you’d find in the Melbourne Sandbelt region. It’s considered a geographic anomaly, caused by a prehistoric flood that brought in heavy sandstone into the low-lying areas. 

The soil is quite sandy, and it’s great for golf, which is why so many of the Sandbelt golf courses are terrific. These include the Metropolitan Golf Club, the Kingston Heath Golf Club, and the Royal Melbourne Golf Club. 

The soil is great for undulating greens and other terrain, along with firm running ground. The soil also works for the steep-edged bunkers surrounding the greens. 

Championship Course

There are 2 possible definitions for this type of golf course. One, the golf course has hosted a major golf tournament, which attests to its high quality and challenging play. Two, it hasn’t hosted a major golf tournament yet, but the marketing officials think it’s good enough for that sort of thing. 

Sometimes, you find a golf course has 36 holes, and one of the 18-holes set is deemed the “championship course”. That means it’s of higher quality, and the play is much more challenging. If you want to maintain your impressive score average, then you’d want to stick with the easier golf course. 

Category: Tips

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