From Myrtle Beach to Royal Liverpool: A Links-style Golf Primer

The Open Championship, also known as The British Open, takes place at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, Merseyside, UK from July 17 – 20. Always compelling and full of intrigue, The Open Championship typically values shot-making ability versus raw power. That seems fitting for an area that’s considered the home of golf. Depending on how the wind is blowing each day, you may see players hitting a five iron off the tee on the same hole they hit a driver the day before. Open-style golf is exciting, especially for American viewers, because it’s a brand of golf Americans don’t see on a regular basis. It’s the beauty and the challenge of links-style golf.

While the pros are playing links-style or European-style golf, why not join them in playing the same style golf courses right here near Myrtle Beach! The Grand Strand offers an endless variety of courses, and that includes links style courses. Before you step out on these unique layouts, here are some quick tips for success on a links-style course:

– Practice your low running shots. Forget about those high, soft shots that land so sweetly on the green for the moment. In links-style golf, swirling, strong winds make it next to impossible to hit high golf shots and actually control where the ball is going. Instead, you need to have the ability to hit low runners that run straightly and accurately onto the green. It will certainly take some practice in terms of controlling your distance on these low liners, but they’re essential to score well in the links-style game.

– Having said that, there will be occasions where you need to hit the ball high to get it over round-breaking hazards. When you see the pros end up with an eight or a nine on a hole, it’s usually because they ended up in a pot bunker or hazard that made it impossible to escape cleanly. The biggest difference in playing a high shot on a links course is the wind. You must play the wind. In links-golf when the wind is high, it’s perfectly acceptable to get the ball on the green. You can’t expect to go pin hunting on every hole.

– Prepare for the heavy rough. While avoiding the thick stuff would provide the best outcome for your round, it’s inevitable that one or two of your shots will end up in the really thick links-style rough. The most important thing about these shots is to get back onto the fairway as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to keep your club square through impact and accelerate through impact. Your wrists have to be extremely strong to drive the ball out of this rough.

Once you have these techniques down pat, you need to put them to work on some links-style courses. Here are some fun options for link-style golfing in the Myrtle Beach area:

— Thistle Golf Club – Located in nearby Sunset Beach, North Carolina, this 27-hole course was modeled after a Scottish course, with open fairways and hills lined with wildflowers. Even the clubhouse has a feel from another time, as it showcases golf items from the 1800s.

– The Pearl West – Up the road from Myrtle Beach in Calabash, NC, The Pearl is a beautiful combination of links-style golf in a coastal marshland setting. This links-style layout offers golfers a combination of open fairways and thick pampas grass.

– Crow Creek – This gem is also located in Calabash, NC. With a links-style front nine and a wooded back nine, this course gives golfers some variety and allows them to decide which style better suits their game.

– Legends – Heathland – Much like the traditional links courses in the UK, Heathland is constantly affected by winds rolling over the open course. Some of the holes even have the feel of St. Andrews.

– The Wizard – Featuring meandering streams that cross numerous holes, the Wizard is another Myrtle Beach course that offers links-like qualities.

After testing your links-style golf skills on the course, be sure to tune back into The Open Championship. Will Tiger Woods’ back allow him to contend on the weekend? Will this be the major where Jordan Spieth breaks through as a full-fledged star? What about the other big names: Bubba, Phil and Rory? With your primer on links-style golf, you can relate to the excitement and drama of The Open Championship.

(posted 7/9/14)

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