Why nothing beats links golf in the winter

If your golfing soul is in need of some replenishment then a trip to the seaside, and better still a links golf course, will go a long way to helping things. It's not been the bleakest winter, weather wise at least, and hopefully you've managed to keep your golf going in recent months but you could be forgiven for letting things slip a little.

When did you last see your golf ball scamper down the fairway? How mucky are your golf shoes? How many balls have you lost under a pile of leaves or from just plugging in a spot of rough?

This week I was lucky enough to play at Royal Liverpool, aka Hoylake, which has been home to The Open on 12 occasions. The brilliance of the course speaks for itself, it would sit in any top 100 in the world, and obviously this is at the top end of the scale but it was the nature of the round that really sparked our enjoyment.

Playing any links in winter is a treat. For starters your ball runs and doesn't just stop in its tracks which makes shots into greens so much more exciting, actually following your shot with interest to see how the land will affect it and, hopefully, feed it closer and closer.

Even at a very rudimentary level it's not just a case of lumping it as far as you can, there has to be a bit of nous and a bit of imagination involved. Find the green from distance and you should applaud yourself, miss it and you'll likely leave yourself some sort of putt/chip and run to nudge the ball up there.

The winter routing is also generally a treat and everything flows nicely. There's rarely any need to trek to a back tee, the course has been laid out appropriately to get people round in a decent time as well as being able to hit all the shots.

If you've not played links golf then the greens might be the aspect of it that blow your mind the most. The greens at Hoylake were like nothing else and probably putted better, or at least as good in the middle of summer, in the middle of February. Putts don't deviate or bobble, they just run straight and true. The past few months wondering if you would ever hole a putt again will be a distant memory.

And there's little or no relative rough. A long summer's day on the links is truly special but it can involve spending a bit too long wading around the hay looking for one another's ball. As a fourball we din't lose a single ball and that's nothing to do with us being arrow straight or hitting loads of greens, it's just that there's little or no rough. You hit a wide one and generally walk straight to it. Not that it made the game that much easier, a lob shot over a revetted bunker to a tight pin is tricky in any circumstances, but you're in the game and part of it.

One of us arrived with his shoes caked in mud from his last round at his home parkland course, he walked off the 18th with them absolutely immaculate. There are so many brilliant winter deals to be had by the coast, do yourself a massive favour and take advantage while you can.