The 16th hole at Cabot Links
Courtesy Cabot Links

Links to a Trend

From coast to coast, the rise of these great layouts (including one recently renovated classic) heralds a new era in North American golf-course design.

Bandon Preserve; Bandon, Ore.
At the golfer’s smorgasbord that is Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, this new 13-hole par-three course is a tempting little morsel — a light bite for players who have feasted on the property’s four 18-hole layouts but still have an appetite for a bit more. Though shorter than its siblings, Bandon Preserve offers a great taste of links golf, requiring a range of shots on holes that buck and roll with the tilting of the land. Proceeds from the course go toward conservation efforts aimed at protecting the Oregon coast.
Green fees: $75 to $230; www.bandondunesgolf.com

Cabot Links; Inverness, Nova Scotia
Astride a tiny fishing village on coastal land once used for mining, Canadian architect Rod Whitman has shaped a stunner of a course that ambles artfully along the water, with stirring ocean vistas from start to finish and six holes that run adjacent to the beach. The layout is the essence of a modern classic. Though it has been open for only a couple of months, it looks — and plays — like it’s been around for centuries.
Green fees: $65 to $110; www.cabotlinks.com

The Prairie Club; Valentine, Neb.
In the strictest sense, these two 18-holers aren’t true links courses, which, by definition, must be on the coast. But both still qualify as pleasure grounds for purists. About four hours northwest of Grand Island, Neb., the Dunes Course, designed by Chris Brands and PGA Tour star Tom Lehman, spills through Nebraska’s sand-hills region with firm, fast fairways that are a fitting feature for a setting often whipped by prairie winds. Its sister course, the Pines, curls through a forest by the Snake River Canyon, blending elements of links golf with those of a classic tree-lined course. Work on a third 18-hole course is expected to begin within the next two years. Green fees: $100 to $185; www.theprairieclub.com

Pinehurst No. 2; Pinehurst, N.C.
Everything old is new again at this iconic Donald Ross–designed course, which first opened for play in 1907 and evolved over the decades but which was overhauled last year to return it to its century-old roots. Tour legend Ben Crenshaw and his design partner, Bill Coore, handled the project, transforming a course known mostly for its greens into a wildly varied shotmaker’s paradise. The restored layout has no rough and larger landing areas for increased strategic options, while the return of native grasses, hard pan and waste areas bring the course in line with Ross’s original design.
Green fees: $329 to $410; www.pinehurst.com

Streamsong; Polk County, Fla.
Think Florida and you picture flat expanses.? But here, in a sandy dunescape in the center of the state, phosphate mining, now ?defunct, left dramatic contours on the land. This 36-hole resort, slated to open in December, seizes on these elegant elevation shifts with two links-style layouts, designed in collaboration? by the celebrated architect Tom Doak (the man behind top-ranked Pacific Dunes) and the dynamic duo of Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore.
Green fees: TBD; www.streamsongresort.com