Links courses provide the ultimate golfing test. We take a look at the attributes required to be a champion…

Building The Perfect Links Golfer

With the Open Championship fast approaching, Golf Monthly builds its perfect links golfer.

Links courses provide the ultimate golfing test. We take a look at the attributes required to be a champion…

Greg’s Driving

Building The Perfect Links Golfer

(Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

The old adage goes: “Drive for show, putt for dough.” Well, try telling that to Greg Norman, whose record of ten top tens at The Open – including wins in 1986 and 1993 – was based on imperious driving. Avoid the knee-high rough and you’ll outscore your opponents – whatever the tournament.

Ernie’s Bunker Play

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

“I’m afraid that’s caught the pot bunker in front of the green.” Words no golfer wants to hear. A few angry swipes later and you’re signing for a 7. At Muirfield in 2002, the Big Easy laid on a mercurial bunker display. This culminated in yet another sandy par on the final hole of the play-off to secure the Claret Jug.

Tiger’s Iron Play

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/WireImage)

Perhaps the biggest reason why amateurs find links golf so difficult is the accentuating effect the wind can have on a slice. Or a hook. Being able to shape the ball both ways is crucial. There is a good argument to say that Tiger’s 2006 victory at Hoylake was the greatest-ever display of iron ball striking. He only used his driver once… and finished 18-under-par.

Louis’ Rhythm

(Photo by David Cannon/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Rhythm is the special ingredient a golfer needs to play well by the sea. The problem is that with the wind howling, preventing yourself from swinging faster than a 12-year-old high on Skittles is easier said than done. For four days at the Home of Golf in 2010, Louis Oosthuizen’s rhythm never changed. It was a masterful display of long-game control.

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Nick’s Strategy

(Photo by Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

Links bunkers have a magnetic quality. A ball that looked perfectly safe while in the air will happily take a sideways bounce before charging off towards the sand. Nick Faldo, who made 18 consecutive pars in the final round of the 1987 Open at Muirfield to win by one shot, was a master strategist. He kept his rhythm and delved deeply into his reserves of patience. That’s why he’s a Sir.

Jack’s Mental Game

(Photo by Ed Lacey/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

Embrace the challenge. This is the advice we are given when we face a daunting situation. Focusing and staying calm when a double-bogey appears on the horizon is one of golf’s great tests. Jack Nicklaus fell in love with this challenge and seemed to get better when things became more tense. It was the reason he won the 1970 Open and Doug Sanders didn’t. Sorry Doug.

Seve’s chipping

(Photo by Phil Sheldon/Popperfoto/Getty Images)

The prospect of hitting a delicate chip off a tight, bare, seaside lie is enough to bring most of us out in hives. Seve, however, was oblivious to fear. His deft touch was most evident at The Open. Who can forget his up and down from the back of the 18th to win at Lytham in 1988? Magic.

Justin’s Putting Stroke

Putting becomes much more complicated in the wind. It starts when you look down at the ball only to see your trousers madly flapping. Then you look up and see the break from the left but the wind from the right. At this point, your brain is doing somersaults. Not Justin Leonard’s. Despite strong winds at Royal Troon in 1997, the putts kept dropping. He won by three shots.