We were fortunate enough to play Formby GC on the famed stretch of England’s Golf Coast the week of the Open Championship at nearby Birkdale.
It was a warm welcome in both the clubhouse and ProShop before finding the first of many bunkers down the left wing of the 1st hole.
Standing on the 1st green you got that feel of old school links with the Liverpool to Southport railway breathing on the green.
Links? Surely yes but there were pine trees aplenty in view from the 2nd tee and heathland to avoid when not finding the bunkers which I managed to do on the second.
Stay out of the bunkers whilst avoiding the heather and this course is playable – the par 5 third yielded two birdies and a par amongst our three ball. Do not take driver on the short 4th hole unless you are both long and straight, even then it’s the wrong club. Also on the 4th be mindful of a smelly little runoff over the green that cost our group a couple of bogeys.
The first standout hole for me was the par 3 fifth, it had Colt written all over it with a typical raised green ala 5th hole on the New at Sunningdale. This picturesque short hole had sandhills holding the ground right of the green and miss it left at your peril.
7, 8 & 9 had a different feel to them which were designed by Donald Steel in the early 80s and care must be taken to know both the best lines and run outs.
Actually the course in general had a feel of a few hands making up the course design which makes sense given, Willie Park, Braid, Colt, Taylor, Hawtreee and Steel all have had a hand in the layout.
The prevailing wind is usually off the Irish sea making the back 9 the easier of the two nine’s – NOT today!
We turned for home with a strong two club wind on the kisser and it was test off the white tees with some quality two shot par 4’s. The approach to eleven green tucked into the sand dunes was an effort!
A lover of a short par 3 the 16th came into its own at 127yds on the day. Make the green and have a good chance for birdie, find one of the bunkers or worse and its bogey at best.
What sets this links course, yes it is a links (!) apart from others in the area is the mix of majestic pine trees that run along many of the fairways. It is beautifully bunkered yet very penal and if at all possible the sand seems heavier! Don’t get greedy trying to advance your ball, take your medicine by playing out sideways and fight for your bogey like I did on at least half a dozen holes. As if the tress and bunkering isn’t enough to get you thinking the heather also comes into play making the rough a constant challenge.
By the time I had visited two more bunkers on the 18th it was time to reach for the Head & Shoulders to help get the sand from my hair, lovely showers here by the way, followed by a much needed Peroni!
A snippet of advice if I may, aim at arriving a touch early for your tee time and ask the front of house lady, Julie Strange for a tour of the clubhouse. She gave us an early feel of the great history connected to the club. It ticks a lot of boxes from Open Qualifying to Amateur championships, (won in 1984 by Jose Maria Olazabal) through to Curtis and Palmer Cups.
Formby has it all, if you haven’t yet played it I cannot recommend it highly enough – just stay out of those bunkers!
Date: August 01, 2017