Sporting: If God Designed Golf Courses, They Would Play Like This

The expression “links” derives from an Old English word meaning “hill” or “ridge” — it came to describe the ranging dunelands with which the British Isles are uniquely blessed. Unusable for farmers, links land was left to the herdsmen and hunters, and to the first golfers in Scotland who found a landscape ideally suited to their game. Livestock nibbled the valley grasses down to playable height, rabbit’s warrens were patted down and puttable, and where the sheep laid into hillsides and wore the grass down to its sandy bottom, golf’s first bunkers were born.

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The author on the course at Kingsbarns in Fife, Scotland.CreditRecounter Photography

Before the helping herds came glaciers and ice ages and millenniums of receding waters and shifting tides that left behind these former seabeds turned preposterous dunescapes that no course designer could have imagined or sculpted. Millions of years of geographical phenomena went into shaping a true links course; nature forged the pathway that inspired and sustained the game. It’s hard to say the same about Wrigley Field or the Staples Center, so forgive golfers when they behave as if their game is divinely inspired….

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