Different Types of Golf Course

Following on from my article explaining the difference between links courses and parkland courses, I thought I would continue the theme here and talk about three more different types of golf course.  The three we shall cover here are Heathland, Woodland, and Stadium.

Heathland Golf Courses

Heathland golf courses are typically located on ancient heathlands, hence their name, which are areas of open, sandy, and often hilly terrain that are covered in low-growing vegetation such as heather, gorse, and bracken.  

You definitely do not want to end up in any of these.  As for gorse, when in bloom it looks beautiful but if you are unlucky enough to find a bush with your ball and you do at least locate it, you are likely in for a very prickly time.  In fact, unless it is on the edge of the bush I would suggest leaving it there and saving yourself from certain pain!

As for heather, you will find plenty of this on a heathland course.  Please stay out of it.  Although it is not too deep and certainly looks stunning when flowering, it swallows balls, and they are never to be seen again.  If you are lucky enough to find your ball, you better have strong wrists because the makeup of heather is very tough and unforgiving.  Just admire it and stay out of it.

As for bracken, well just stay away!  Pain and injury will follow if you tangle with this monster.

The sandy soil of heathland drains well, making it ideal for golf courses as it is less prone to waterlogging and flooding.  It is time to brush up on your links courses skills because quite often, keeping a ball lower in flight to navigate the bumps and hollows, may well be a good idea.

One of the most famous heathland golf courses is Sunningdale Golf Club, in Berkshire, England. Sunningdale has hosted a number of professional golf tournaments and is renowned for its challenging course layout and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

While heathland courses can be challenging, they also offer a unique and beautiful golfing experience. The natural landscapes and open vistas are a refreshing break from the manicured fairways and greens of more traditional golf courses. 

As mentioned above, the heather and gorse in particular can create a stunning visual contrast against the green of the fairways and the blue of the sky.

Woodland Golf Courses

Woodland golf courses are some of the most picturesque and challenging courses you can play on. These courses are characterised by their natural landscapes that often require golfers to navigate around trees, undergrowth, and water hazards.

Unlike traditional links courses, which tend to be more open and exposed, woodland courses are often situated in a dense forest. The fairways and greens are carved through heavily wooded areas.  This can sometimes give the feeling you are the only one on the course, as it may well be you cannot see the other fairways from where you are playing.

A fantastic example of a woodland course is the Rosemount at Blairgowrie.  Blairgowrie is to be found in Scotland, that wonderful country that is home to some of the best golf courses in the world.  

Playing a woodland golf course requires a different set of skills than playing on a links course. Golfers need to be able to control their ball’s flight and accuracy. The trees lining the fairways are waiting, just to get in the way of your errant shot. DO NOT believe what you hear about trees being 90% air.  If you take them lightly, the familiar sound of clattering branches will be followed by a frantic search, often resulting in frustration and dropped shots. 

Doglegs, guarded by trees are also a feature.  These holes require strategy and accuracy to place your ball into the best place to make your score.

It’s not all bad though.  Woodland courses are beautiful places to spend a few hours.  They can also be peaceful, due to the sheltering of holes by the trees.

Stadium Golf Courses

Stadium courses are so named because they are designed to host large events, normally professional.  

They tend to be heavily designed and crafted to create their unique character, rather than using the natural lie of the land such as with links courses.

Those of you that follow competitive golf will have heard of TPC Sawgrass in Florida.  This venue is the permanent home of the Tournament Player’s Championship which concluded just yesterday, 12th March 2023.  Look out for my results post, coming out very soon.  By the way, check out the 17th green which is an island par 3.  Stunning!

Sawgrass has plenty of water all around the course, not just at the 17th, which is there to catch any shot not accurately struck.  I watched a fair amount of the tournament this year and the number of the pros that met a watery end on the 17th should provide us all with the comforting knowledge that this sort of calamity is not reserved for the handicapped golfer.


Whether you are a high handicapped player, scratch player, or professional, there will definitely be a type of course for you.

My advice would be to try them all.  They provide such a varied golfing experience that one will never be bored.

However, I understand you may not like playing in the wind, and horizontal rain.  If this is the case, it would be a good idea to steer clear of a links course.  You could however keep your eye on the weather forecast with regard to the rain but the wind rarely lets up.  Give it a try anyway.

A special note for beginners.  However tempting, I would avoid courses that feature an abundance of water and especially if it requires you to hit over it to find the fairway or green.  Choose a course that will be a little forgiving to your mishit shots.  It would be a shame to knock the enthusiasm out of you before you have hardly begun.

So there we have it.  Over the space of 2 blog posts, we have covered all the main types of golf courses, as follows:

  • Links 
  • Parkland
  • Heathland
  • Woodland
  • Stadium

Which do you prefer?

I would love to know in the comments.


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