Guide to the Different Types of Golf Courses

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Read on to learn more about the different types of golf courses. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be equipped to decide which of the types of golf courses best suits your playing style.

Landscape Style

Many courses incorporate elements of the natural setting into their designs. How the architect uses or reshapes the natural terrain determines the landscape category of the course. Most golf courses fall into one of three main types.

Links course
Links course originated in Scotland. Links courses are built on narrow sections of sandy land between coast and farmland.
Links courses work with the natural landscape of these strips of land. They incorporate the land’s slopes and turns, and the fairways often have a natural roll to them. Wind can be a major factor in the game on a links course.

Parkland course
A manicured golf course with careful landscaping and an abundance of green grass and trees is usually known as a parkland course. The land is more tailored, so fairways are typically smooth.
Unlike links courses, which are, by definition, found in coastal areas, parkland courses are often far from the shore.

Desert course
Courses in the desert are often an oasis of green amidst the area’s dry, sandy landscape. Although these courses work with the natural sand dunes and other features of the terrain, their abundant grass is unnatural for the area. Much irrigation is required.
Desert courses are found only in parts of the world with a dry, desert climate.

Course Access

Municipal Course
Golf facilities that are owned by a city or other municipality are known as municipal courses. You pay a fee each time that you visit one of these courses. Sometimes, these are the cheapest pay-as-you-go courses, but fees may be different for residents and non-residents.

Daily-fee Course
As a municipal course, a daily fee course is fully open to the public. However, it’s privately owned instead of being operated by a municipality.

Semi-private Course
You can pay to play at a semi-private course each time, or you can purchase a membership. By becoming a member of a semi-private club, you may receive preferred or unlimited access to tee times.

Private Course
Country clubs and golf clubs own private courses. To play on these courses, you become a member of the club by paying an initiation fee and annual dues. These fees may grant you unlimited access to the club’s facilities.

Most private clubs allow members to bring guests, but the general public does not have the opportunity to book a tee time. Limited access means that clubs are often less crowded than courses that are open to the public.

Length of Play

Differing hole lengths and challenges on each course mean that it takes less time to play some courses than others.

Executive Course
Low-par holes speed up the time that it takes to play an executive course. The course leans toward par-3 holes with just a few par-4 or par-5 holes thrown in.
An executive course can have 9 or 18 holes. An 18-hole executive course is usually no higher than par 65.

Regulation Course
The majority of the holes on a standard golf course are par 4s. The remaining holes are a mix of par 3s and par 5s.
Many regulation golf courses are known as championship courses, even if they may never host an official championship. These courses have excellent playing surfaces, and they are often par-72 courses. However, this is not an official standard, and championship courses are sometimes par 70 or 71.

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