a picture of golf course

Are you new to golf? And are you overwhelmed by all the glossaries in the world of golf? You probably heard about the many different types of golf courses and wondered the differences. Here is a piece of good news: Different types of golf courses, at least, are much simpler to understand than you might think!

Golf courses can be categorized by their size, by setting, and by admission requirements:

By Size

  • 18-Hole Courses are standard full-sized courses with 18 holes in a course, mostly par-4 holes with a mix of par-3 and par-5. The 18 hole courses are mainly between a par of 70 and 72. Major championships are played exclusively on 18-hole courses.

  • 9-Hole Courses have 9 holes in a course, with mostly par-4 holes with a mix of par-3 and par-5. These courses have an appeal to the people who look to play quick early rounds, before work in the morning or after work in the evening. 9-hole courses are also a less expensive option than 18-holes.

  • Executive Courses are 18-hole or 9-hole courses, but shorter in size. Most holes are par-3. Unlike par-3 courses which are consist of par-3 holes exclusively, executive courses might have some longer holes. These courses play faster and are generally less expensive. It is a great option for people just starting playing golf and juniors. The name, Executive Courses, originated from the business term. Busy business executives want to get in the courses that take less time to play, before or after work, even during long lunch time.

By Setting

  • Links Courses are situated along coastal areas. They are sand-based courses with coastal grass and dunes, using its natural landscape as it stands. Minimal modifications and maintenance are done to these courses. They are mostly found in the UK and Scotland which are the birthplace of golf. Links can also be found in the US along the coastlines, e.g., Bandon Dunes in Bandon, OR, Chambers Bay in University Place, WA.

links golf course

  • Parkland Courses are mostly found inland and named because of their park-like settings. Parkland Courses have lush, well-maintained fairways, plenty of trees, and man-made bunkers. Some are even built in the middle of forests surrounded by trees. Many courses in the United States have adopted this setting, and most of PGA tours are played on parkland courses. The well-known courses in the US, Pine Vally Golf Club in Clementon, NJ and Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta GA are some excellent examples of parkland golf courses.

parkland golf course

  • Desert Courses are situated in desert areas, probably the only green space in mostly sand and cactus surroundings, and their lush fairways and greens require high maintenance. These irrigated courses are primarily found in the southwestern US. The Stadium Course in Scottsdale, AZ  and Marriott's Shadow Ridge Golf Club in Palm Desert, CA are good examples of desert courses. The Coachella Valley in California boasts 124 irrigated golf courses, with many lakes.

desert golf course

By Admission

  • Public Courses are golf courses that open to the public. Municipal Courses are owned and operated by cities or counties for residents while Daily Fee Courses are privately owned public courses. Municipal courses’ primary objective is to provide recreation facilities for their residents. Therefore their green fees are generally lower than privately owned courses. The average cost to play a round in 18 hole public courses on the weekend including using a cart is between $30 and $50. If you are just starting golf and looking for good values for money, public courses are a good option.

  • Private Courses are open to their golf club members only. Non-members can play as guests of members. You pay the high price for private club membership, but you can expect the exceptional experience in golfing and other social activities. That include immaculate golf courses, fine dining, five-star amenities, also a social status of belonging to the prestigious golf clubs. There are Semi-Private Courses which are open to both club members and the public, sort of a hybrid version of golf courses. The benefit of semi-private courses is you can experience what private courses offer while keeping the cost down by playing semi-private courses. However, club members receive favored tee times and green-fee rates.

  • Resort Courses are open mainly to the guests in their resorts, and open to the public in their offseason.


Ready to try various types of courses and find out what suit you best?  The key to finding the right course for you is trying many different kinds of courses as possible and experience them yourself. And accompany the right golf buddies who will bring you more enjoyment during this fun journey.