I grew up in Belfast, just 20 minutes from Royal County Down, one of the best links courses in the world. Countless rounds there helped me learn to play links golf. Every years, I bring a groupo across the Atlantic Ocean to play the great links, and there are three shots they—and you—need to play this special type of golf.
1. Control ball flight. Trajectory is the No. 1 key for links golf, and the best way to hit lower shots is to move the ball back in your stance. Then make a three-quarter backswing and finish low. This is a great shot in all types of wind—even downwind—because it provides better control.
2. Putt whenever possible, even from 30 to 40 yards off the green, instead of reaching for the wedge. On links courses, playing short shots through the air is less predictable than using the turf. Position the ball in the middle of your stance for a descending path and crisp stroke.
3. Get out of the sand from a fairway or greenside bunker in one stroke—even if you have to go backward. I have seen too many good rounds ruined by players trying heroic shots from the sand. Keep in mind that sand on links courses is often soft, so use your sand wedge's bounce by opening the face for explosion shots.