Links Golf

The 2010 Ryder Cup Matches, recently held in Wales, is a Links style golf course. I think it would be a good idea to review the basics of “Links Golf”. The term “Links Golf” refers to a golf course on or very near the sea and usually near an estuary or tidal inlet of water. “Links Golf” is associated with golf in the United Kingdom and the word originated from a Scottish-English dialect. There are links courses all over the world. Early golf courses were built on links or sea side land because the land was relatively flat and the grass grew very close to the ground.

Due to the high wind near the ocean, most links courses have few trees and have very firm, sand based turf, which is conducive to hitting the ball low and rolling the ball on the ground. Most links courses have many bunkers, and some have very steep faces made of cut and stacked turf, which looks very much like a brick wall.

Celtic Manor hosted this year’s Ryder Cup Matches between the American Team of 12 professional golfers versus the European Team of 12 European professional Golfers. Celtic Manor is located in the town of Newport, Wales near the city of Cardiff. While the course is not located on the ocean is it near the ocean, and the weather will be influenced by the sea-side location. Because of these sea-side weather conditions, (wind, rain, and cold) it was important for the competitors to play links golf shots and more specifically hitting low shots that ran along the ground versus high shots that are influenced by the wind. These shots are generally referred to as knock-down shots.
The knock-down shot was an important shot to execute for players in the Ryder Cup in order to win their matches.

Here is how to play a knock-down iron shot:

Choose at least one more club for the distance.
Choke down at least an inch on the grip.
Play the back of the ball in the center in your stance or slightly back of center.
Start with hands ahead of the club face and de-loft the face of the club.
As you move your hands ahead, make sure the face of the club does not open.
Use a ¾ or more compact back-swing, but make a weight-shift.
You are not looking for a fast swing – you have plenty of club- stay in balance. A slower swing speed will aid in producing less spin and a lower ball flight.
On the downswing allow the club to swing down and keep your hands ahead of the ball.
Feel like you keep the club low on the follow-through.
If you can allow for a hook spin, set-up with a closed club face for an even lower trajectory ball flight and the ball will run.
This is a very practical shot to learn and is useful when playing in windy conditions.

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