It’s not easy for a parkland track on England’s Golf Coast to compete against all the links courses strung out along the coastline, but the 18-hole Old course at Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa does rather well as a credible alternative to the other links offerings.
Opened for business in 1996, the resort wasted no time in making a mark on the professional circuits, hosting annual events on first the European Challenge Tour, then the European Senior Tour and finally the PGA Europro Tour.
Extending to more than 7,000 yards from the back tees, the layout is configured as two returning nines, with water coming into play at more than half the holes. With a nod towards its illustrious golfing neighbours, many of the sand hazards are fashioned as links-style pot bunkers.
Highlight holes include the left doglegging par four 5th, rated stroke index 2, and the shortest of the par threes at the 16th, where the tee shot carries over a pond to a green that’s fronted by four bunkers – with a sneaky fifth sand hazard positioned behind the putting surface.
Parkland course located on the golf Coast, plays a lot more mature than its age, with tees that push it to championship length. Typical resort course feel with large water hazards and greens. Throughout the summer months it usually is in good condition but have experienced wetter conditions when I have played in winter months.
Formby Hall Golf and Spa Resort is an impressive place to stay and base yourself whilst playing the high quality courses on the Gold Coast. It really feels like you're on a 'proper' golf break with high class hotel, restaurant, practice facilities. And thats before we get to the course itself.
The course is a parkland course wandering through acres of trees and water hazards a plenty. The scorcard shows 18 different water features and some of these come into play on multiple holes.
The fairways are tight and the rough when i played yesterday was penal. Sticky 1st and 2nd cut rough but once you wandered further off line, deep knee length lush grass. Basically, drive straight or you will lose a few balls.
At 6500 yards off the yellows, its a tough enough test, but given the firm conditions, both fairways and greens, the holes often played shorter than their yardages.
The water hazards in most cases line the fairways so shouldn't come into play that much. But there are a number of holes where the water hazards tuck in front of the greens making the choice of club on your approach absolutely vital. Holes 4, 11 and 14 are giod examples of this. There are other holes where the green is directly behind water, the 3rd and 7th plus the par 3 16th all have this feature. And then theres the 10th, a real rusk and reward hole. At 280 yards, drivable but if you go left water awaits all the way down the hole. Aim right to avoid the water and youre in deep rough.
The standout holes were for me the 11th, a dig leg left par 4, with the tee encouraging you out right, where deep rough awaits and an approach where a pond tucks into the fairway and in front of the green for your approach and the 16th, played over water with bunkers front and rear on this 150 yard (yellows) par 3.
The strongest section of the courses is holes 11 - 16 as you head out into more spacious countryside away from the Resort.
The conditioning was excellent, the greens ran true, not fast, the pot bunkers well maintained and the fairways and rough well managed.
The wildfowl on the course was a delight to see as we wandered through the trees, up the cowslip and long grass and wild flower edged fairways.
On the basis of this visit I would recommend a visit. The views across the 18th from the outdoors patio, with beer in hand made the completion of the round even more enjoyable.
this course should be far higher on the list. A real test and lovely looking course. There is a reason that it holds euro pro events. . . The facilities are top class.