THE VILLAGES, Florida – All golf courses are the same, right? Not at all! A golf course can be sorted into multiple categories, including the style of landscape, the amount of time it takes to play the course, and what sort of access people have to the course. The differences in the types and styles of golf courses are what makes the game of golf so unique to other sports. Let us look at the different styles of golf courses and their architectural designs.
It is also interesting to see how architects use the natural terrain and environmental setting to determine the landscape category of the course. Most American courses fall into one of four types, but I have found what I consider a fifth type.
The most common style in the United States, parkland golf courses are characterized by “lush, well-kept fairways, mature trees, thick rough and bunkers.” They are typically located well inland (Most of the golf courses you see are Parkland). Some of the most famous parkland courses include Augusta National Country Club in Augusta, Georgia and the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
The most common style in the United Kingdom, links golf courses are very distinctive from other categories. “Situated in the thin strip of sand, grass, and dunes that lay between the water and agricultural land,” links courses literally “link” everything together. Each hole “shares” the same rough because the rough are interconnected. Although there is barely any tree or water hazard, links courses are particularly challenging because of its undulating firm ground, long rescue grass, deep well-like bunkers, and constant strong wind. The most famous links course in the world is the Old Course at St Andrews, where the Open Championship has been held twenty-nine times.
Desert courses are unique. As the name suggest, desert courses are basically oasis of green land in the middle of sands. They are usually located in the Southwestern U.S. These courses can be the most challenging courses you will ever play. Do not let the name Desert trick you into believing that the course you will be playing will be flat and without water hazards. These courses can be found built around and in mountain ranges that will introduce you to dramatic elevation changes that will take your game to someplace it’s never been before.
Resort courses are commonly found in vacation states like Florida, where a lot of luxurious hotels and resorts are located. Usually guest-only, resort courses are designed to be a pleasure rather than a challenge. Therefore, their fairways are usually very wide and the rough are cut short. Those courses also provide golfers with stunning surroundings, such as flowery bushes and mature maple trees. Don’t be fooled by the definition of these courses, the greens are usually well bunkered and water hazards are always in play.
This is my fifth type of course because some courses are architecturally different from front nine to back nine. These types of hybrid courses are usually a result of being constructed in an area where two different styles of landscapes meet. Courses built near large bodies of water can sometimes have one nine built near the water like a Links style course while the other nine across the street has rolling hills and trees, a Parkland style course.
These five different types of course all fall under the Championship category of courses that means the course has at least one eighteen hole and are usually between Par 70-72.
One of the other types of courses is the Executive Course that can have 9 or 18 holes. An 18-hole executive course is usually no higher than par 65. 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’s and maybe one par-5. The Villages in central Florida has over 45, Par 27-29 Executive Courses available to their residents.
Golf course that is owned by a city or town is known as municipal courses. You pay a fee each time that you visit one of these courses. Semi-private Course At a semi-private course, you can pay to play each time, or you can purchase a membership
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.