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5 Great Places to Play Links Style Golf in the U.S.

February 9, 2015
Bandon Dunes

Treeless fairways, bump and run shots and steep-walled bunkers are just a few of the many elements that make links golf, shall we say, very interesting, fun and challenging. While Scotland and Ireland have the world’s best links courses, the U.S. offers an exceptional menu of links style layouts. If you don’t have the time or inclination to cross the pond and play links golf, here are five links style play suggestions in the good ole U.S.A.:

Bandon Dunes (Oregon) — Set amongst giant dunes and beautiful pines on the rugged Oregon coast, this magnificent complex offers five spectacular golf courses as well as a 60-acre practice center and The Punchbowl, a massive putting course. If you want links style golf in the U.S., it doesn’t get any better than Bandon Dunes. Enhancing the overall experience at this walking-only resort are some of the world’s best and most knowledgeable caddies. From the pine-scented air and the sounds of crashing waves to the tight lies and gorse framing the fairways, Bandon Dunes offers the quintessential links-style golf experience on American soil.

Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort (South Carolina) — Golf course designer extraordinaire Pete Dye throws everything but the kitchen sink at golfers on the Ocean Course with its mounded fairways, steep-walled waste bunkers, deep pot bunkers, undulating plateau greens and high grasses. Site of the 2012 PGA Championship and the legendary “War on the Shore” Ryder Cup Matches in 1991, this course has everything you want in a links style golf experience. There are sometimes fierce Scottish-like winds and 10 holes that play along the Atlantic Ocean.

Streamsong Resort (Near Lakeland, Florida) — Some golf writers have referred to Streamsong as “Bandon Dunes South”. With its wild, exotic looking sand mounds–some as high as 75 feet–Streamsong conjures up images of Ballybunion in Ireland. It has 36 holes of golf set on terrain that was previously used as a phosphate mining area. While the miners have packed up and departed, what they left behind is soaring sand mounds, beautiful lakes and native vegetation. Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed the Red Course and Tom Doak’s Renaissance Golf Design fashioned the Blue Course. Florida has more than 1,400 golf courses, but there’s absolutely nothing that comes close to this one-of-a-kind links style golf experience.

The Prairie Club (Valentine, Nebraska) — This Tom Lehman/Chris Brand design, with its dramatic elevation changes, tall grasses and innovative, rugged bunkering is links style golf at its finest. Situated on the rim of the Snake River Canyon, the course is picturesque and challenging. When the wind starts howling, as it often does in this part of the Cornhusker state, you can close your eyes and swear you’re in Scotland. The Prairie Club features caddies, two other golf courses and accommodations at a rustic-looking, amenity-laden 31-room lodge and four cabins.

Whistling StraitsWhistling Straits (Kohler, Wisconsin) — Enhancing the overall links experience at Whistling straits are the sheep you’ll see while playing. Rimmed by two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, this Pete Dye designed layout at the American Club Resort is a masterpiece with imported fescue grasses, spectacular links style bunkering and rolling dunes peppered with tall grasses. In 2015, Whistling Straits will host the PGA Championship for the third time. Dye also designed the resort’s Irish Course, a tribute to the phenomenal links layouts in southwestern Ireland.