I played Formby earlier last month when two months of hot sun had proceeded my visit and baked out the course to a parched brown colour. Through a combination of these course conditions and the narrow fairways found on a selection of Formby’s holes (some of which are as little as 15 yards wide), there was a premium on accuracy. I don’t quite understand the ecological and environmental conditions that need to exist to have a treelined links, but Formby seems to stand on its own in this regard. Since this is the only time I’ve played Formby, I’d be intrigued to see how it plays in the off-season, but at this time of year every hole played like a genuine links.
Formby has a wonderfully varied layout, some holes played amongst dunes whilst others are flat and treelined with a few areas even having clusters of heather scattered amongst the rough. Train tracks accompany the opening holes whilst combinations of long and short holes of varying pars are enough to keep an amateur like me on my toes, but it’s the holes around the middle of the round that make Formby a “must” if visiting this region. The 6th is the start of this great run of holes. This is where the course really changes complexion as you start to approach the woodland. Strategic bunkering greets you along the right hand side of this hole, placed just where you want to hit your tee shot before dunes and mounds lay in front of the green making it semi-blind. The 7th, played into a meandering valley fairway that is less than twenty yards in places is a unique dogleg where the raised green sits enclosed within more sandy dunes. The 8th meanwhile is bizarre and I mean that in a positive respect, played to a table top fairway with sharp ledges on either side, it’s a par five that’s well short of 500 yards making it easily reachable in two, but is well guarded by the natural land formations that will punish an offline golf shot. The 9th is a beautiful hole played into a copse of trees and only one of probably two holes where you get to view the sea whilst the 11th also proved to be one of my favourites with a half obscured shelf-top green circled by mounds.
Whilst it probably lacks the consistency or wow factor to be a genuine World top-100 contender, it’s a very strong golf course and hugely worth fitting into the itinerary of England’s premier golfing region. For Formby represents somewhat of a hybrid between links golf and its parkland cousin making it a perfect starting point for any visitor to the Lancashire coast hoping to ease themselves into links life before taking on the more wind-exposed links courses in the area.
Date: August 07, 2018