4 gear changes that will help you play better links golf

st. patrick's links and adjustable driver

The right gear tweaks will sure up your set for links golf.

Clyde Johnson/Ryan Barath

For golf sickos and links golf appreciators alike, July is the greatest time of year to watch the best players in the world tackle links courses. This week, we get to feast our eyes on the Genesis Scottish Open (at Renaissance Club) followed a week later by the Open Championship (Royal Troon).

For those of you who aren’t professionals, though, but are still headed to Scotland and Ireland for golf trips and don’t have a fleet of equipment trailers and technicians to dial you in, we’ve compiled a gear-tweaking cheat sheet to help you best handle links golf conditions.

Here’s what you’d be wise to pack:

Driving iron or low-lofted hybrid

Taylormade PDUI PDHY 2024
The TaylorMade P-UDI and P-DHY offer a lower and more controlled ball flight compared to an equal loft fairway wood. Ryan Barath

Golf on proper links means playing next to the ocean, and with ocean currents comes Mother Nature and ever-changing winds. Sure, higher lofted fairway woods are great for getting the ball up into the air and landing soft, but having the ability to keep the ball low and running along the ground reduces variables and gives you more control to avoid bunkers and fescue.

TaylorMade P-UDI Custom Utility Iron

Tour inspired shaping for a playable and balanced look at address. Strategically positioned CG for a penetrating ball flight with backspin for players who demand shot making with long irons. INDIVIDUAL MASS OPTIMIZATION Featuring advanced thick-thin back wall construction, sound stabilization bar, and deliberately distributed mass to maximize forgiveness. Each iron is uniquely designed with every gram strategically placed to achieve specific performance goals with premium forged feel. OPTIMAL LAUNCH AND FORGIVENESS Designed to deliver easy launch, increased forgiveness and enhanced consistency. The new internal weighting structure combines with proven technologies such as the forged 4140 OptiFace, Speed Pocket™ and up to 26g of tungsten. THRU-SLOT SPEEDPOCKET The Thru-Slot Speed Pocket™ provides increased face flexibility while preserving ball speed and distance on low face strikes.
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Look no further than Todd Hamilton’s set when he won the 2004 Open Championship at Troon in a playoff against Ernie Els.

Hamilton navigated the course with a 17-degree Sonartec MD hybrid bent down to 14 degrees, allowing it to serve as his 3-wood and a handy-dandy chipper all in one.

Low bounce lob wedge

Vokey A grind Jason Day
Low bounce wedges keep the leading edge lower to prevent skulled shots. Ryan Barath

Firm links turf doesn’t require a short-game overhaul but the harder ground makes it naturally more difficult to take divots around the green, especially if you’re a golfer used to playing in softer conditions.

One club many pros switch out during the links swing at the Scottish Open and Open Championship is their lob wedges to a lower bounce option to keep the leading edge lower to the ground. A lower leading edge in firm conditions allows for an aggressive approach to the ball with much less risk of hitting a skulled shot.

Titleist Vokey WedgeWorks SM10 Low Bounce K Custom Wedge

Inspired by Voke’s original K Grind, the Low Bounce SM10 K grind is among the most popular of all the available Vokey options, especially with amateur golfers who favor its wide, cambered sole, providing maximum forgiveness on greenside shots and out of the bunker. Adding Vokey Design® SM10 Wedges to your bag opens a world of scoring opportunities. Between the crisp contact, optimal flighting, incredible spin – and those magical Bob Vokey grinds – they give you everything you need to grow your short game skill. From the simple to the sensational, SM10 are made to make great shots happen. Improved Flighting & Feel Get lower, more attacking flight in a wedge that feels amazingly solid at impact with SM10. A precise shift in the center of gravity gives you even more control and stability for greater confidence over every shot. Ultimate Shot Versatility Your swing is unique and requires the right tools. Finding your ideal mix of grinds will provide you with flawless contact and maximum versatility so you can be prepared for everything the course demands.
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Examples of low-bounce wedges you can find on the market are the Titleist Vokey Low Bounce K-Grind, which offers a low bounce angle with a wider sole; the Vokey T-Grind, which offers low bounce and a thinner sole for those that want a bit more versatility; the Callaway Jaws Raw Z-Grind; and the TaylorMade MG4 LBV.

Adjustable driver / fairway woods

Adjustable golf clubs
Adjusting your driver to a lower loft setting can lower launch and lower spin. Ryan Barath

Adjustable drivers, fairway woods and even hybrids offer the opportunity to fine-tune ball flight for your swing and course conditions. In the case of playing in windy conditions on firm turf like those found on links courses, a lower loft helps to produce a lower launch angle with less spin, which is ideal for reducing dispersion.

Change your golf ball

titleist 2024 avx golf ball
The Titleist AVX offers a lower ball flight and lower spin. Titleist

Once you’ve made all the possible adjustments to your gear, the last thing to consider is your golf ball.

Changing your golf ball to a model designed to spin less and apex lower through its flight can further help increase accuracy and precision when playing in various wind conditions and could be the difference between rolling up on the green or ending up in a dreaded pot bunker.

Want to overhaul your bag for 2024? Find a fitting location near you at True Spec Golf.

Ryan Barath

Golf.com Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.

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