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What makes a “Links Course” a “Links Course”?

So often we, at Royal St. Cloud Golf Links, are asked this question. There are so many misconceptions out there. The British Golf Museum says that “links” are coastal strips of land between the beaches and the inland agricultural areas. This term, in its purest sense, applies specifically to seaside areas in Scotland. The Modern meaning here in the United States of a true links course is not just that the golf course is treeless or on the seaside. In modern terms, a “links course” is more broadly defined as:  a golf course built on sandy soil that is buffeted by wind;  that has few if any trees, but has a tall, thick rough of native grasses;  that features many bunkers, with many of them deep to prevent sand from blowing away;  that plays firm and fast with sometimes crusty fairways and greens that feature many knolls and knobs to create odd bounces and angles;  and most of whose greens are approachable on the ground, allowing run-up shots.
Links golf is, it’s often said, “played on the ground” as opposed to being “played in the air.” That means that links courses provide lots of roll-out and allow (or even require) golfers to run balls up to their greens, rather than demanding all carry to reach soft greens that hold shots. We’re proud that Royal St. Cloud Golf Links was named #1 Links Course in Orlando. Royal St. Cloud was created from virtually nothing. On what was most likely the fertile sugar plantations of just over a hundred twenty five years ago, Royal St. Cloud Golf Links arose. Although the land reverted back to pasture since the failure of both sugar and rice production, the topography of the land interestingly includes what’s called “Sugar Sand Dunes.” Just as many visitors to Disney World can thank the engineers who drained the native swampland of Central Florida, so too can the golfers of Royal St. Cloud be thankful to that same effort in the early 1800s. From among the cypress swamps, oak hammocks and the pine and palmetto forests, a barren ranch land offered very little other than wide open breezy lands. But with imagination and creativity, our golf architects fashioned challenging and unique 27 holes. The natural land was devoid of defining elements such as trees and rolling hills, but there were natural lakes and creeks running through the property. Fairways and greens were formed as well as so many bunkers, ridges, and stone walls adding extra touches to the already interesting golf course. Drama came from nothing, strategy played into every placement of every shape, form and contour.


Taking a stance and playing the ball
From “Golf The Ultimate Guide” DK Publishing, 2014
“One of golf’s fundamental rules is that you should play the ball as it lies—in other words, in the same position where it landed. There are serious implications if you attempt to improve your lie or the area of your intended swing through the ball in any way.”
Ball Identification … The rules allow you to bend back grass in heavy rough in order to identify your ball Playing away from obstructions … If you are unlucky enough to have to take a shot from behind a tree, you might need to improvise. Golf sometimes requires imagination as well as skill.
You aren’t allowed to force branches away with your hands or stamp down on them to prevent them from impeding your shot. The rules do permit you to carefully ease yourself into a position to play the shot. This is known as “fairly taking your stance,” and it simply means doing what is reasonably necessary to get into a position to make a swing at the ball.
If by some dire stroke of misfortune your ball becomes lodged up a tree, you are allowed to shake the branches or even throw a club at it in an attempt to bring it back down. Just don’t risk getting your club stuck in in the tree too!