A Quick Nine: Best links-style courses in the U.S.

Whistling Straits
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Whistling Straits got the nod from several of readers as one of the best U.S. links-style courses.
T.J. Auclair, Interactive Producer

Series: A Quick Nine

Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 | 9:51 a.m.

Here at PGA.com, I guess you could say we developed a case of, "Open Championship fever," after watching the world's oldest major contested last week at Royal St. George's on the southeast coast of England.

Isn't it just so cool to watch links golf? Everything about the golf is different. Instead of the majestic, towering shots we're accustomed to seeing the pros hit on most of the courses they play in the U.S. that spin back 15-20 feet, on the other side of the pond they're required to take into account the wind, fairways cut almost as short as the greens, uneven fairways, etc. It's a game of chess, really.

Well, guess what? As special as those courses are, believe it or not, we have some unbelievable links golf in the U.S. too.

In this week's, 'A Quick Nine,' feature, we asked our PGA.com Facebook fans to identify their favorite, "links-style," course in the U.S. It's one of the most passionate debates we've seen around here in a while with nearly 300 responses thanks to all of you!

Without further adieu, and for what's sure to spark more spirited debate, here are the top-9 links-style courses in the U.S., according to you:

9. Pebble Beach Golf Links. You had to know this was making the list, right? It's played host to six major championships (five U.S. Opens and one PGA Championship). Even people who aren't into golf know what you're talking about when you say, "Pebble Beach."

Facebook fan quotes:

"Best links course has to be Pebble Beach. It only takes one glimpse from the tee at the short par-3 7th to prove this is true." -- Jake Jones

"No doubt Pebble Beach!" -- Larry Luper

"Pebble Beach is possibly the nicest course of any type in the US. Clearly the nicest links course by default." -- Seth Kennedy

8. Newport National Golf Club in Middletown, R.I. OK, in the interest of full disclosure, as a native Rhode Islander, I was delighted to see Newport National make the list. I've played there a handful of times and it is unlike anything else around here -- an absolute delight to play. There isn't a bad hole out there. Each time I arrive at NN after a 30-minute drive from my home, the look and feel makes me believe I should have traveled several thousand miles to get there. What a treat.

Facebook fan quote:

"Newport National in Middletown, R.I." -- Tim Dawson

7. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Shinnecock Hills, N.Y. Interesting to note that Shinnecock has hosted four U.S. Opens in three different centuries. It's been around for quite some time!

Facebook fan quote:

"Shinnecock Hills. The closest thing there is to a 'TRUE' Links course in the U.S." -- Simon Dewsbury

6. The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C. Remember the 1991 Ryder Cup? It was one of the most hotly contested Ryder Cup matches in the event's history, with the U.S. squeaking out a one-point victory. It will also host the 2012 PGA Championship.

Facebook fan quotes:

"The Ocean Course at Kiawah is the best." -- Patrick Belk

"Ocean course @ Kiawah. Tough challenge any day. Wind changes direction and speed on every shot." -- Howard Artrip

"If you consider it a true links-style course then The Ocean Course at Kiawah is just phenomenal." -- Patrick Shanley

5. Chambers Bay, University Place, Wash. It hosted the 2010 U.S. Amateur and will also host the 2015 U.S. Open. Most of the time when you think "links style" you might also think "old." That's not so with Chamber's Bay, which opened in 2007.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Chambers Bay! That's top-shelf American links golf!" -- Matt Clark

"Home of the 2015 U.S. Open Chambers Bay is the best links course in the U.S. You feel like you're in Scotland!!" -- Travis Hannula

4. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, Bandon Dunes, Ore. This was by far the overwhelming favorite among our readers.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Bandon Dunes in Oregon!" -- Samantha Gotcher

"Bandon Dunes the closest links style course this side of the Atlantic." -- Arthur Kelsch

"Hands down... Bandon Dunes." -- Mike Mabini

"The Bandon courses. The only 'true links' courses in the U.S." -- Mark Staben

"Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. When watching The Open last weekend, I thought I was watching golf at Old MacDonald on several occasions. The same could be said for the Bandon and Pacific Dunes courses." -- Jim Johnson

"Bandon Dunes no question about it. I'm from Aberdeen, Scotland so I'm spoiled, the east coast of Scotland is the best stretch of coastline for links golf in the world, but lived in Vancouver for a few years and played in Oregon often and it's fantastic!" -- Mark Rennie

3. Erin Hills, Wisc. It will host the 2017 U.S. Open.

Facebook fan quote:

"Erin Hills in Erin, WI." -- Josh Kohnhorst

2. Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisc. It's hosted a couple of PGA Championships now and when you're on the grounds, it's another one of those places that just takes your breath away because it's so different from what we're used to in the U.S.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Straits course at Whistling Straits. Not even a toss up." -- Joe Wetrich

"Whistling Straits, Kohler, WI." -- John Blaguski

1. Nags Head Golf Links, N.C. Here's the website description: At Nags Head Golf Links, Nags Head, North Carolina, you'll discover a true Scottish links-style championship course nestled into the natural, windswept environment of the Outer Banks where sand dunes and rugged coastline create a different golfing experience.

Facebook fan quotes:

"Nags Head Golf Links in North Carolina is best kept secret in links golf... GREAT links course." -- Scott Rose

"I'm not gonna go with the obvious, so I say Nags Head Golf Links and the Wild Dunes Resort - Links Course. Both of them are amazing places to experience a true links feel..." -- Daniel Reedy



What a bs list....thanks Peter M for being the voice of reason below.
Also...what about Kittansett? Misquamicut?


Nags Head Links is number 1? When my friend sent this link I thought he was playing a joke on me....Nags Head Links could be one of the worst courses I've ever played. To start, usually the greens are running about a 6 on the stimpmeter. If you get there early to hit balls the pro shop will take $10 and give you a bag of whiffle balls. The range is about 100 yards long. As for the course itself I will break it down hole by hole:
1st Hole-270 yard par four, down wind. Usually a rescue or long iron will get you on the green. Horrible.
2nd Hole-not a bad layout, but Nags Head's main drag runs along the entire left side of the hole.
3rd Hole-110 yard par 3 with no real defense (water is not in play)
4th hole-340 yard par 4 with a creek in the landing area.
7th Hole-blind 7 iron to large landing area, then a pitching wedge to green. Terrible hole.
8th Hold-Rescue club over water, then a 100 yard flip wedge (usually blind over bushes).
11th hole-3 wood over pond, then a left turn with a 115 yard shot.
12 hole-drive is blind and if you hit it over 260 yards, you're wet. There is a "stop light" system for when you clear the fairway. A joke of a hole.
13th hole-If you like houses, this is the hole for you! The entire hole is about 25 yards wide with houses on both sides of the fairway.
14th hole-285 yard par 4..usually a 100 yard shot in to the green.
15th hole-Great par 3 with the sound on the right. This is a good hole.
16th hole. Driver will put you about 100 yards from the green.
17th and 18th holes are ok.


you titled this the best Links courses

Pebble Beach is not in that class been there. you could concider Spanish Bay.

if not #1 in New York a Links course it has to be at least in the top 5 Craig Burn East Aurora (private) Also Harvest Hill a First Tee course here in Orchard Park is close (public)

maybe a state by state nomination should take place


The Highlands Links course in Truro on Cape Cod is a real links course--9 holes and all the scruffy rough you could imagine, blind shots etc etc---great fun and last time I played it it was about $10 ( a few years ago)


best public in New Jersey= Ballyowen in sussex county great links course up in the low mountains


Here's all you need to know where the only true links courses in America reside:


Nags Head Golf Links remains my favorite golf course ever. I spent a week in Nags Head @ Easter in 1999. I played Link every day for a week. The most fun I've ever had playing golf and I don't think I shot a respectable score on any day. But what an experience playing that course.


According to LINKS MAG, Pebble Beach does not qualify as a links course.


I'm here at my desk in downtown chicago and you put a photo of whistling straits. you rascals! The straits course is magical. it just is. I hope to get to some of the others on your list because the whole idea of links courses on natural terrain next to large bodies of water is enough to....well....to make a grown man cry.


A few comments on this list:
1) Pebble Beach is a half links since more than half the course could be called park land.
2) The Ocean Course at Kiawah might be the most over rated golf course in the world ( Pebble Beach has pretty much retired the trophy based on the number of people who have not played it who think it is great).
3) Nags Head lacks so many elements to be called "great" that I thought this might be a gag.
4) Erin Hills is so far inland that calling it a "links" would mean that we would have to redefine the word. It is a great "Heath Land" track with a links feel.

The real list would read something like this:
2)Friars Head
3)The National Golf Links of America
4)Bandon Dunes
5)The Maidstone Club
6)Old MacDonald
8)Whistling Straits
9)Newport Golf Club-NEWPORT RHODE ISLAND-not the poser referenced in your rankings..

An acceptable alternate would be Bayonne Golf Club.

Not to belabor the point, there are very few TRUE Links courses in the US


Perry & Press Maxwell’s Prairie Dunes


Nags Head Golf Links is a great golfing experience. I play it every time I'm there, which is yearly.


You missed the links courses at The Prairie Club in Valentine,NB. Two wonderful courses, great sand dunes and wonderful prairie grass. They treat you very well, golf was wonderful and the greens were a real challenge. Two year old course but not to be missed. Not overrun with too many players.
Much better service than WISC courses.


No love for National Golf Links of America?


Happy to see #6 on the list! What do you guys think of the New Course at Grand Cypress? Honorable Mention? http://www.nicklaustravel.com/Grand-Cypress-Golf-Club.html


Awesome list!!!...doesn't hurt that my choice made #1 either. If you've never played either one, you need to check them out...you won't be disappointed!!


Arcadia Bluffs not on the list is a shame.