Discover The Course
“Watch and study how the wind blows off an ocean, carves and sculpts the sand dunes. Then build a golf course to wend its way through these elements.”
This was the challenge that faced the design team and builders of The Links.
In addition, the course had to measure up to the highest international standards and to become one of the world’s top courses within five years.
The Links is a fantasy world. The rolling, endless humps, hollows and surrounding dunes in this green moonscape isolates one from the prevailing environment as a player faces up to the challenges presented by a timeless golf course.
The land from which The Links is constructed was flat and featureless – it once formed a part of a disused airport – and thousands of tons of earth were moved to create the course.
Owner, Dr Hasso Plattner, has made this course his ultimate quest and holds strong views on its application and feel. Plattner visualized a true links build away from natural coastline. He wanted soft, sloping greens, often featuring steep slopes next to them, which move offline approach shots to low areas. From these low areas, the golfer has an option to play a variety of recovery shots.
He visualized a Par 3 with a burn always in play.
Other musts were a green on top of the ‘dunes’ and a peninsula type green in the heart of a wetland.
The Links was first created in the mind before many hours were spent discussing the fine-tuning its contours, with visual references to traditional natural links courses in Scotland and Ireland, as well as the study of desert sand dune shapes.
Generally, wind blows sand to create a ‘soft’ slope ‘with’ the wind and a steep slope on the other side of the crest. This concept and theme was adopted throughout the construction of The Links.
The grass mix for the tees, fairways and primary rough consists of three varieties of Rye (55%), two Fescues (35%), 5% Brown Top Bent and 5% Kentucky Blue.
This mixture provides the best resistance to disease, traffic and drought, while offering an opportunity for either the Ryes or Fescues to dominate as required during certain times of the year, depending on climatic conditions.
The mix also provides a dense turf, which can be mown to 8mm, while for the greens, Bent Grass dominates. Grasses in the dune areas are a mix of indigenous tufted varieties with a predominant ‘weeping-type’ look.
About 700 000m3 of earth was moved to create a dune land environment, while 10km of sub-surface piping was installed to ensure adequate drainage.
While The Links is a true championship course, enough fairway width offers a challenge most golfers will see as being achievable, rather than impossible.
The layout follows an ‘ebb and flow’ type challenge to the golfer. A few very demanding holes are often followed by a more forgiving hole. The direction of play varies constantly. This makes the challenge of the wind more interesting.
“This is the best links course I have seen outside Scotland,” said US golfing great Jack Nicklaus after a visit.
Said Player: “This is definitely among the world’s best courses. It has been designed to make golfers feel as though they were at Ireland’s Ballybunion or Lahinch, even Scotland’s legendary St Andrews. Rolling fairways, pot bunkers, big greens, severe rough and a dunescape appearance complete the similarity.”