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Links Golf: Our Top 20 Books and Audiobooks

links books featured

Links golf is a unique and fascinating form of the game, played on coastal courses shaped by the seaside terrain’s natural contours. These courses, often situated on sandy soil and dunes, offer a distinct challenge with their firm, undulating fairways, deep bunkers, and unpredictable winds. The origins of links golf can be traced back to the earliest days of the sport in Scotland, where the game evolved on the rugged linksland along the shores.

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The essence of links golf lies in its minimalist design, allowing the natural landscape to dictate the character of each hole. Unlike many modern courses that are meticulously manicured, links courses embrace the raw beauty of their surroundings, with wispy grasses, undulating greens, and strategically placed hazards that demand precision and creativity from golfers. This organic approach to course design has captivated golf enthusiasts for centuries, as it presents a true test of skill and mental fortitude in the face of ever-changing conditions.

In this post, we’ll list our Top 20 Books and Audiobooks on Links Golf. There is variety here – coffee table books with great photos, audiobooks, travelogues, works focused on course design and architecture, and course histories covering over 100 years. Many of these have served as inspiration and even source material for the posts on this site and my upcoming book.

If you enjoy the course writeups, consider subscribing to our weekly newsletter to receive updates on new posts, partners, and discount codes. For more information, check out the other courses featured in our Legendary Links series, which will soon be published in a book, “Links Around the World.”

Golf Course Prints

Our partner, Golf Course Prints, sells premium-quality printed maps and aerial views of golf courses worldwide. They offer over 4,500 captivating golf course designs that can be customized and make great gifts for golfers. The prints come in six sizes and can be made into a print, blanket, golf towel, puzzle, or canvas.

Free Shipping in the USA and Buy 3, Get 1 Free Offer in addition to our discount.

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Classic Golf Links
by Donald Steel

Summary: Classic Golf Links of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland by Donald Steele is a guidebook featuring 75 spectacular links golf courses in the British Isles, covering their history, design, and challenges. The book includes scorecards, hole maps, photos, and playing tips for each course, providing key information for golf travelers while celebrating these revered seaside tests.  With writing by Donald Steel and photos by Brian Morgan, Classic Golf Links is considered an essential reference for experiencing the best of links golf.

This book is a must for anyone with an affinity for links golf. I bought this book years ago and still return to it often. The pictures are amazing and they alone will make you fall in love with these courses.

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True Links
by  Malcolm Campbell & George Peper

Summary: True Links by Malcolm Campbell and George Peper profiles over 240 of the world’s top links golf courses across the British Isles and beyond, examining their history, design features, and status as an authentic “true links.” Organized geographically, the book offers photos, maps, scorecards and playing tips for renowned seaside tests like Royal County Down, Ballybunion, Cabot Links, Barnbougle Dunes and others that meet the authors’ criteria.  For links golf aficionados, True Links serves as an illustrated guidebook for experiencing the unique joys and challenges of the game’s most revered coastal courses.

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Golf Courses of the British Isles
by Bernard Darwin

Summary: “Golf Courses of the British Isles” by Bernard Darwin is a classic text that explores and celebrates the unique beauty and challenges of golf courses throughout the British Isles. Darwin, a revered golf writer and grandson of Charles Darwin, provides insightful commentary on the architecture, history, and character of iconic courses, blending personal anecdotes with expert analysis. His vivid descriptions transport readers to the very greens and fairways of famous venues, highlighting their natural beauty and the intricacies of their design. The book, illustrated with evocative drawings by Harry Rountree, remains a timeless tribute to the game of golf and is considered a must-read for enthusiasts of the sport and its storied landscapes.

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Sand and Golf
by George Waters

Summary: “Sand and Golf” explores how sandy terrain uniquely suits golf, studying similarities and differences between courses worldwide with sandy features. It examines all aspects of the relationship between sand and golf, from the sport’s origins in Scottish coastal dunes to its global spread onto sandy sites. Written by golf architect George Waters with a preface by renowned designer Tom Doak, it details through examples and illustrations why firm, rugged, windy sandy terrain makes creative shot-making integral to the game. The book appeals to knowledgeable golfers interested in course design and architecture, analyzing the art and science behind why golf belongs on sand.

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America’s Linksland: A Century of Long Island Golf
by William Quinn

Summary: Whenever golf “meccas” are discussed, you can be sure that Long Island, New York will not be mentioned. But it should be. And the reasons are clear in America’s Linksland: A Century of Long Island Golf, by William Quirin. In size, Long Island is small; it measures a mere 1,200 square miles. In terms of golf history, however, it’s huge. The first famous golf course in this country, The National Golf Links of America, is located there. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, the site for the first playing of the U.S. Open, is located there. The site for the 2002 U.S. Open, Bethpage State Park’s Black Course, is located there. And the history goes on an on. 

Carefully researched and beautifully written, America’s Linksland is a heart-felt tribute to one of golf’s most historic places. Vintage photos of golf in the early days, and spectacular color photography by L.C. Lambrecht of some of Long Island’s best courses, add even more to its appeal.

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Great Golf Courses of Ireland
by John Redmond

Summary: This book offers a celebration of golf in Ireland, profiling 30 top links and parkland courses across the country from renowned spots like Portmarnock and Portrush to newer destinations like Mount Juliet. It details the history, famous players, and legends behind each Irish course, bringing their stories to life through extensive illustrations and photos capturing the natural beauty surrounding these layouts. Originally published in 1992, updated editions have followed over the years featuring additional content on newly developed courses and the latest enhancements at Ireland’s most storied golfing grounds. Presented in 2006 to commemorate Ireland hosting that year’s Ryder Cup, a special edition focuses on the world-class courses built in the country over the previous decade.

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Scotland’s Gift, Golf
by Charles Blair MacDonald

Summary: Scotland’s Gift, Golf is a masterpiece of early golf literature, written by the Father of American Golf Course Architecture, C.B. MacDonald. Considered by historians to be the most important book ever written on early American golf, this book details the birth of golf in the United States in the late nineteenth century and the formation of the U.S.G.A. in 1894.

In addition to a detailed summary of the characteristics of an ideal golf course, this guide provides rare insight into the methods and philosophies that MacDonald used to design some of the world’s most renowned courses, including the National Golf Links of America, Mid-Ocean Club, Lido, and Yale Golf Club. It also includes personal anecdotes and correspondence describing the development of the rules of golf, as well as the evolution of the modern golf ball and golf club.

Written in 1928, this book features 56 black-and-white photographs from the author’s personal collection, including rare photos of Bobby Jones, Young Tom Morris, and Francis Ouimet. Also included is an appendix which highlights the oldest surviving rules of golf from 1754, as well as the amended version from 1858.

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The Making of Pacific Dunes
by Tom Doak

Summary: Tom Doak, the architect of Pacific Dunes, recounts the history of the course, how he and his team routed it and the decisions they made doing so, and other details about the course. The book is full of color pictures of Pacific Dunes, a course ranked in the top 25 in the world located in Bandon, Oregon. If you have played Pacific Dunes – this book will enhance your memories of it. If you are going to play Pacific Dunes, you need this book to heighten your awareness and insight of how to play it. The first half of the book looks at the big picture design issues: the decisions on routing, construction, challenges, and so forth, and the second half of the book dedicates 5-6 pages to each hole (with a copious amount of color photographs) and specifically focuses on their design and construction.


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The Nature of the Game
by Mike Keiser

Summary: The Nature of the Game chronicles how businessman and avid golfer Mike Keiser discovered his passion for authentic links golf in Scotland and Ireland and embarked on a mission to bring that pure golf experience to America through Bandon Dunes.  Keiser details his philosophy of “dream golf” – walking-only courses routed naturally through windswept landscapes that embrace the origins of the game.  The book provides an inside look at how Keiser partnered with architects like Tom Doak to make the dream golf vision a reality at Bandon and other sites, pioneering a back-to-basics movement in course design.  At its core, The Nature of the Game shares one man’s journey to recapture golf’s essence by creating minimalist, natural links-style courses focused on fun and camaraderie.

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Ancestral Links
by John Garrity

Summary: One man’s quest to uncover the roots of his family’s obsession with golf – a journey that takes him to his ancestral home in Ireland, to Scotland, and to the American heartland. 

John Garrity is well known in the golf world for his writing for Sports Illustrated, Golf Magazine, and on Golf.com. In this book, Garrity travels to the remote corner of Ireland from which his great-grandfather left for America, now home to a majestic golf course. There he discovers why local farmers spent seven years carving the course out of unforgiving terrain, using only rakes and spades for their work. From there, he visits Musselburgh, Scotland, where his maternal ancestors played golf before the first 13 rules of the game were written there in 1774, and to Wisconsin’s St. Croix River Valley, where his father learned the Ancient Game. 

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Hooked
by Kevin Markham

Summary: Now in its third edition, this concise, detailed book is for golfing tourists looking for great value courses, for golfing clubs that wish to go beyond their local area, and for Irish golfers searching for excellent but unsung courses in Ireland. Written from an amateur’s perspective, reviews focus on the energy and excitement of playing each course, giving a true representation of the golf experience, ranking each course, and providing contact information for booking.

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The Links
by Robert Hunter

Summary: A masterpiece of architectural literature, The Links is the first book that fully addresses the complexities of the golf course in terms of design, construction, and definition of the game. Written in 1926, Robert Hunter conceptualized The Links as a complete study, a manual for golf course architects and design enthusiasts, specifically written to advance the field of study in a way that had never been tried before.

Although Hunter was not a golf course architect by trade, or even a golfing professional, his background as a dedicated socialist reformer led to his unique understanding of the relationship between golf and its greater contribution to society. The challenges posed by golf, as well as the beauty produced by the singular nature of the world’s most famous links, led Hunter to conclude that diversity is what makes golf the cherished game that it is. In The Links, he postulates, “It is not the love of something easy which has drawn men like a magnet for hundreds of years to this royal and ancient pastime; on the contrary, it is the maddening difficulty of it.”


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Book of the Links
by Martin H.F. Sutton

Summary: The Book of the Links features selected writings from prominent golf figures of the early 20th century, including Martin H.F. Sutton, Bernard Darwin, and H.S. Colt. Written in 1912, this collaborative guide provides rare insight into the methods and philosophies that were used to design, construct, and maintain the world’s most renowned golf courses.

According to Sutton, “In producing this volume, it has been my aim to provide in the first instance a compendium of information, of a more complete character than has before been compressed into a single volume, on all the points upon which golf secretaries, green committees, and greenkeepers desire instruction.”


Tom Watson Golf

Duel in the Sun
by Michael Corcoran 

Summary: The 1977 British Open at Turnberry was an epic showdown between golf legends Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, with Watson prevailing by one stroke after they battled over the final 36 holes; Michael Corcoran brings this dramatic moment in golf history to life through interviews with participants and evocative details about the Open’s rich tradition and origins; Duel in the Sun recounts Watson rising to defeat Nicklaus and claim his spot at the pinnacle of golf.

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A Course Called America
by  Tom Coyne

Summary: In the span of one unforgettable year, Coyne crisscrosses the country in search of its greatest golf experience, playing every course to ever host a US Open, along with more than two hundred hidden gems and heavyweights, visiting all fifty states to find a better understanding of his home country and countrymen.

Coyne’s journey begins where the US Open and US Amateur got their start, historic Newport Country Club in Rhode Island. As he travels from the oldest and most elite of links to the newest and most democratic, Coyne finagles his way onto coveted first tees (Shinnecock, Oakmont, Chicago GC) between rounds at off-the-map revelations, like ranch golf in Eastern Oregon and homemade golf in the Navajo Nation. He marvels at the golf miracle hidden in the sand hills of Nebraska and plays an unforgettable midnight game under bright sunshine on the summer solstice in Fairbanks, Alaska.

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A Course Called Ireland
by Tom Coyne

Summary: By turns hilarious and poetic, A Course Called Ireland is a magnificent tour of a vibrant land and paean to the world’s greatest game in the tradition of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods

In his 30s, married, and staring down impending fatherhood, Tom Coyne was familiar with the last refuge of the adult male: the golfing trip. Intent on designing a golf trip to end all others, Coyne looked to Ireland, the place where his father had taught him to love the game years before. As he studied a map of the island and plotted his itinerary, it dawned on Coyne that Ireland was ringed with golf holes. The country began to look like one giant round of golf, so Coyne packed up his clubs and set off to play all of it-on foot.

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A Course Called Scotland
by Tom Coyne

Summary: For much of his adult life, best-selling author Tom Coyne has been chasing a golf ball around the globe. When he was in college, studying abroad in London, he entered the lottery for a prized tee time in Scotland, grabbing his clubs and jumping the train to St. Andrews as his friends partied in Amsterdam; later, he golfed the entirety of Ireland’s coastline, chased pros through the mini-tours, and attended grueling Qualifying Schools in Australia, Canada, and Latin America. Yet, as he watched the greats compete, he felt something was missing. Then one day a friend suggested he attempt to play every links course in Scotland, and qualify for the greatest championship in golf. 

The result is A Course Called Scotland, a hilarious golf and travel adventure throughout the birthplace of the sport and home to some of the oldest and most beloved courses in the world, including St. Andrews, Turnberry, Dornoch, Prestwick, Troon, and Carnoustie.

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The Missing Links: America’s Greatest Lost Golf Courses & Holes
by Daniel Wexler

Summary: While it’s hard to imagine that famed Pebble Beach Golf Links would ever be dug up and turned into a residential community, similar fates have happened to other great courses in the past. Thankfully, due to the exhaustive research of Daniel Wexler, the full details on 27 of these exceptional layouts can be found in The Missing Links: America’s Greatest Lost Golf Courses & Holes

Through the use of period photographs and detailed maps, Wexler takes the reader on a hole-by-hole guided tour of some of the most famous courses—designed by some of America’s most famous architects—that no longer exist.

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Lost Links
by Daniel Wexler

Summary: Hundreds of classic courses from golf’s pre-World War II Golden Age have vanished, including nearly 200 designed by legendary architects like Donald Ross, A.W. Tillinghast, and Dr. Alister MacKenzie. In this sister volume to his award-winning book, The Missing Links, historian Daniel Wexler profiles more than 70 of the best courses and holes in America, bringing them back to life with detailed histories, color maps, and period photographs. 

Within Lost Links, the reader can walk William Flynn’s sand-strewn North course at Boca Raton, skirt towering Pacific cliffs at Billy Bell’s mysterious Royal Palms, retrace Seth Raynor’s footsteps at the Greenbrier and revisit George Thomas’s legendary lost holes at La Cumbre.

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Anatomy of a Golf Course
by Tom Doak

Summary: The book explains the thought process and strategies used by golf course architects in designing courses, including factors like hole length, placement of hazards, and routing. It aims to help golfers understand why certain design choices are made so they can better approach playing the course. Written by acclaimed golf architect Tom Doak, it appeals to both knowledgeable golfers and beginners interested in course design and architecture. The book also includes an appendix with examples of noteworthy golf courses that are worth studying.


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