Birkdale, which was completed in 1897 on a strip of dunes in Southport, England, is set to host its 10th Open Championship later this month. It will wrap up a three-week run of links golf — that band of earth where land and sea come together — that began with the Irish Open and continues this week with the Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in Troon, Ayrshire.
Links courses typically resemble a moonscape with grass, where an unpleasant combination of howling winds, blind holes, mounded landing areas and quirky bounces awaits. It is where a different type of golf is played, and where a different type of temperament is needed for the heather and gorse and the pot bunkers deep enough for a flock of sheep to take cover.
“It’s the purest form of golf,” said David Feherty, who won the Scottish Open in 1986 and is now a golf commentator for NBC Sports and the Golf Channel.
Tom Watson was a reluctant convert to links golf, despite winning in a playoff at Carnoustie in Scotland in 1975 in his British Open debut.
“I played St. Andrews in 1978, and I did not like it,” he said. “I preferred American-style target golf. But I started…