Saturday, January 07, 2012


Thomas wrote to ask why certain golf courses are called links. The word link seems to have come from Old English, where it meant to slope. One of the features of a links course is sloping or undulating fairways.

This is the progression of the word link as presented in the Oxford English Dictionary:

§ Rising ground; a ridge or bank.

§ pl. (Sc.) Comparatively level or gently undulating sandy ground near the sea-shore, covered with turf, coarse grass, etc.

§ pl. The ground on which golf is played, often resembling that described above

Today, most people use links as a synonym for any golf course, but strictly speaking, a links course has the features of the original Scottish courses set on the west coast of the North Sea. They featured barren sandy soil, long bent grass and gorse, no trees, and nasty pot bunkers. What simulated links courses built inland lack is the raging wind and driving rain characteristic of the original.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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