Types of Golf Courses:
One Size Fits All?

No two golf courses are alike. Discovering the differences in settings and ways to play them is part of the adventure of playing golf.

Not enough time for 18 holes? Do 9. Don’t like long holes? Play a par-3 course. Love the feeling of a walk in a park or prefer feeling a sea breeze? Choose between a parkland or links course.

Golf courses are categorized in many different ways.

A quick guide to the different types:

Types of Golf Courses

By accessibility

  • Public: are open to the public. No membership is required, you only pay your green fee for the day. Depending on the location, you either have to reserve a tee time ahead of playing or you may be able to simply walk on and tee off as soon as the first hole opens up.
  • Private: are not open to the public. You have to be a member or the guest of a member to play on a private course. Country Clubs fall in this category.
  • Semi-Private and Resorts: are a combination of the two previous types. Part of the tee times will be reserved for members or resort guests, while other times are available to the public, usually at a fairly high cost.

By length
  • 18-hole: traditional set-up for a course, with 9 holes making up the front 9 and nine holes making up the back 9. The total length of the course varies, depending on the number of par 3, 4 and 5 holes and the individual length of the holes.
  • 9-hole: smaller communities often don’t have a full size course. They are still made up of regulation length par 3, 4 and 5 holes. To play an 18-hole round, you go around twice. Some courses offer a different set of tee boxes to play your back 9 from, making it effectively an 18-hole course.
  • Executive course: a course – often only 9 holes – made up of a lot more par 3 holes and only a few par 4’s and 5’s, making it a lot shorter than a regular length course.
  • Par-3: 9-hole course made up of only par 3 holes. Great for beginners who are still working on distance and for all players who want to work on their short game.

By environment
  • Links: traditional coastal courses, with very few manmade hazards or trees. Links are well-suited for walking, because they are quite compact, with short distances between a green and the next tee. Famous examples of links courses can be found in Great Britain and Ireland.
  • Parkland: inland courses with a lot of landscaping and trees. They often look like a traditional park with manmade hazards like water features and bunkers.
  • Desert: sand courses in dry area’s. Some will have grass only on the greens, some will have “browns” instead, made from sand mixed with oil. To protect your equipment from the sandy or rocky fairways, a piece of carpet or astro turf is slid underneath the ball before taking your shot.

More on Golf Courses

Parts of the Golf Course
Hitting in the water will cost you a penalty, hitting out of a bunker is penalty enough in itself. Your guide to parts of the golf course and the rules that apply.

Pin Position
Where is the hole? Ways to work out where the pin position is on the green and how to get your ball close.

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