Different Types of Golf Courses Explained

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Welcome to our comprehensive guide on the different types of golf courses.

From the challenging links courses of Europe to the picturesque parkland courses of America, golfers are presented with a diverse range of playing environments.

In this article, we will delve into the defining features and influences of each course type, including the role of natural elements such as elevation changes and water hazards.

Whether you are a golf enthusiast or a player seeking to enhance your understanding, join us as we explore the intricacies of golf course design.

Links Course

The links course is a popular type of golf course that originated in England and Scotland and is commonly found in Europe. With a history dating back centuries, links courses have a unique charm and character that sets them apart from other types of golf courses.

Some notable links courses include St. Andrews in Scotland, Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, and Royal Birkdale in England. These courses offer challenging conditions, with long rough and difficult bunkers, requiring players to develop strategic approaches to navigate the course successfully.

Many famous tournaments, such as The Open Championship, are held on links courses, showcasing the skill and precision required to conquer these challenging layouts.

Links courses require careful maintenance and design, with a focus on preserving the natural landscape and incorporating the elements of the surrounding environment.

Heathland Course

Continuing the exploration of golf course types, the next type to be discussed is the heathland course.

Heathland courses are similar to links courses, but they are located inland and away from the sea. These courses feature sandy soil and persistent bunkers, offering unique hazards for golfers to navigate.

One of the highlights of heathland courses is their scenic landscapes, often characterized by expansive views of gorse, heather, and rolling hills.

When playing on a heathland course, players must develop effective bunker strategies to avoid costly shots. Shot selection is crucial, as the challenging terrain requires careful consideration of club choice and trajectory.

Additionally, course maintenance plays a vital role in preserving the natural beauty and playability of heathland courses.

Parkland Course

Moving on to a different type of golf course, how does a parkland course differ from a heathland course?

Parkland courses are most commonly played in America and are known for their unique design features. These courses carve through a natural landscape, with trees acting as hazards. The fairways are green and well-manicured, and the rough is defined. Notable parkland courses around the world include Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, USA, and Wentworth Club in Surrey, England.

Playing on a parkland course offers several benefits, such as the scenic beauty and the strategic challenges presented by the trees and defined rough areas. To succeed on a parkland course, players need to have accurate drives and precise iron shots. Compared to other types of golf courses, parkland courses offer a different playing experience, with a greater emphasis on accuracy and shot placement.

Desert Course

Exploring the unique challenges of navigating a desert course, golfers must adapt to the arid surroundings and strategically avoid sandy hazards. Desert courses present a distinct set of obstacles that require careful consideration and skillful play. Here are some key features and considerations when playing on a desert course:

  • Unique challenges: Desert landscapes offer a stark contrast to traditional golf course settings, with sandy terrain, minimal vegetation, and extreme temperatures. Players must contend with the unforgiving elements and adjust their game accordingly.
  • Strategic shot placement: Due to the lack of greenery, accurate shot placement becomes crucial on a desert course. Golfers need to carefully consider their target areas and avoid landing in sandy areas or rough patches.
  • Maintenance and upkeep: Desert courses require meticulous maintenance and upkeep to ensure the playing surface remains in optimal condition. Irrigation systems, sand traps, and vegetation management are all critical aspects of maintaining a desert course.
  • Popular desert courses: There are several renowned desert courses around the world that have gained popularity among golf enthusiasts. Examples include the famous PGA West Stadium Course in California, the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai, and the Troon North Golf Club in Arizona.

Playing on a desert course offers a unique and challenging experience for golfers. With strategic shot placement, an understanding of the desert landscape, and proper maintenance, these courses provide a memorable round of golf.

Championship Course

A Championship Course is a prestigious and highly challenging golf course that is renowned for hosting professional tournaments and demanding the highest level of skill from players. These courses are designed with specific challenges in mind to test the abilities of the world’s best golfers.

Notable championship courses include Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, Pebble Beach Golf Links, host of the U.S. Open, and St Andrews Links, which has hosted The Open Championship numerous times.

Design features for a championship course often include strategically placed bunkers, undulating greens, and long, narrow fairways that require accuracy off the tee. Signature holes on championship courses, such as the iconic 12th at Augusta National or the cliffside 7th at Pebble Beach, add to the allure and difficulty of these courses.

Weather also plays a significant role in championship course play, with wind, rain, and extreme temperatures affecting shot selection and course management.

Par-3 Course

A par-3 course is a golf course consisting solely of par-3 holes, providing shorter distances and pitch shots as the main challenge for players. Playing on a par-3 course offers several benefits, such as honing your short game skills and improving your accuracy with pitch shots.

Strategies for navigating a par-3 course include carefully selecting the right club for each shot, focusing on accuracy rather than distance, and practicing your pitch shots to ensure precise landings on the green. Some of the top par-3 courses around the world include Augusta National Golf Club, Pebble Beach Golf Links, and St. Andrews Links. These courses offer stunning landscapes and challenging par-3 holes.

Par-3 courses are especially recommended for beginners, as they provide a less intimidating environment and allow for gradual skill development. To excel on a par-3 course, beginners should focus on mastering their short game techniques, such as chipping and putting, and take advantage of the shorter distances to build confidence and accuracy in their shots.

Executive Course

Continuing the exploration of different types of golf courses, the next subtopic to be discussed is the Executive Course.

Executive courses are shorter in length compared to traditional courses, typically consisting of par-3 and par-4 holes. They are designed to provide a full 18-hole experience in a shorter amount of time, making them popular among beginners or individuals with limited time.

One of the benefits of playing on an executive course is that it allows players to focus on their short game, which is crucial for improving overall performance. Additionally, executive courses contribute to the growth of the golf industry by providing an accessible and less intimidating option for newcomers.

These courses often feature unique challenges, such as strategically placed hazards and tight fairways, to test players’ accuracy and shot-making skills. Overall, executive courses offer a convenient and enjoyable golfing experience for players of all skill levels.


In conclusion, understanding the various types of golf courses is essential for golf enthusiasts and players alike.

From links courses to parkland courses, each type offers its own unique set of challenges and characteristics.

Additionally, the surrounding environment plays a significant role in shaping the design of a golf course, with natural elements such as elevation changes and water hazards adding to the shot challenges.

By delving into the intricacies of golf course design, players can appreciate the exceptional experiences that each course offers.

What are the different types of golf courses?

This article explains the various types of golf courses. Traditional courses include links courses, which originated in England and Scotland, and heathland courses, which are similar but located inland. Unique terrain courses include desert courses with sandy terrain and extreme temperatures, and mountain courses that take advantage of natural elevation changes. Tournament courses, such as championship courses, are renowned for hosting professional tournaments. Unique design courses include parkland courses with trees as hazards and par-3 courses consisting solely of par-3 holes. Shorter courses, like executive courses, are shorter in length and focus on the short game.