- +44 (0) 1704 872164
On A565, 7 miles N of Liverpool
Contact in advance
Championships hosted: Arnold Palmer Cup, Boys Amateur, Brabazon Trophy, Curtis Cup, English Men's Amateur, English Women's Amateur, European Ladies' Amateur, Girls Amateur, Jacques Léglise Trophy, Men's Home Internationals, Senior Amateur, The Amateur, The Womens Amateur, Women's Home Internationals
Formby is the prettiest of the eight top-notch links courses located between the seaside town of St Annes and the city of Liverpool. It is bordered on three sides by pine trees, giving the links a decidedly softer, heathland feel. Set in 470 acres on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Formby Golf Club is one of the few places left in England where you might catch a glimpse of the native Red Squirrel.
Formby Golf Club was founded in 1884, originally with a nine-hole course in play for the members. In 1912, Willie Park Junior established the original 18-hole layout and it was altered by James Braid in 1922 and Harry Colt in 1933. More recently, in the 1980s, Donald Steel revised the course due to coastal erosion and extended its yardage. Today's layout now measures more than 7,000 yards from the tips.
Mackenzie & Ebert commenced a 6-year development plan for the course at the start of 2020, with modifications intended to add to the playing aesthetics with a little re-shaping and the installation of some new bunkers and new tees. Changes include widening and re-bunkering the 1st fairway, realigning the 6th fairway to make it more of a dogleg, lengthening and reshaping the 8th, and creating some dune slacks around the 16th.
Formby is a unique course as the holes are routed in a huge anti-clockwise circle around the Formby Ladies Golf Club which sits slap bang in the middle of the men’s course. The first three holes follow the railway line, the 4th turns and heads out towards the Irish Sea and at the turn, we meander back home, zigzagging up and down along the way.
Play Formby when you have been sufficiently beaten up by the other windy links courses around Liverpool and Southport, but don’t be fooled into thinking that this course is easy. It certainly is not. Bunkering is strategic, the undulating fairways are very much links-like, the rough is strewn with heather and the pines provide an element of park-like protection from the wind. Formby will suit both links lovers and the player who prefers the softness of inland golf; both these camps will arrive contentedly at the 19th watering hole.
Formby has hosted a number of important amateur events over the years and played host to the 2004 Curtis Cup. After an exciting finish, the United States successfully retained the trophy, winning 10-8. The Amateur Championship was played here on three occasions; José Maria Olazabal emerged as the 1984 winner and the event returned in 2009 to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the club. A certain sixteen-year-old Italian, Matteo Manassero, won the 2009 Amateur Championship, becoming the youngest ever winner of the event.
In Bernard Darwin’s book, The Golf Courses of the British Isles, he wrote: “The greens are beautifully green; they are likewise very true and keen enough, without ever being bare and hard. The lies, too, are excellent, and it is altogether one of those courses where the player’s fate is entirely in his own hands. If he plays well everything will conspire to help him on his way, but he has got to play really well – good, sterling, honest golf: there is no mistake about that at Formby.”
This is a relatively unknown course, primarily because many golfers head in droves towards the three big Royals in this area (Liverpool, Birkdale and Lytham St Annes). If you are planning a trip to the northwest and haven’t already played Formby, we thoroughly recommend that you do. You will get a warm welcome and a unique and exciting experience.
Having played Birkdale, RLSA and Hillside in the past few days I can confidently say that the conditioning at Formby was the best. The fairways and greens were in great touch. The course is a beauty and really does need to be played twice as the approaches to numerous green are a bit tricky and sometimes quite blind.
The fairways undulate very naturally, more so than neighbours Birkdale & Hillside and they are quite generous. On more than one occasion after pulling my tee shot I found the ball in behind a dune in either light rough or edge of fairway when I thought it would be hard to find. The rough is not as penal as neighbours as the majority of mishits should be found. Although after pushing my drive on the 8th I went looking for it and walked away with 7 balls in amongst the gorse. ( 3 Pro V1s if wondering).
The reviews below generally suggest that the opening holes and the closing holes are the blandest, probably true with the par 3 16th a weak hole. In between though there are some great links golf be played with the stretch from the 11th to 15th in 6 ball territory but overall a solid 5 putting it not that far behind Hillside and Birkdale. Warren from Australia.
The course enjoys an excellent routing and really feels like a heathland in the beginning with significant areas of heather present. Starting on the flatter section of the property the course gradually winds it’s way into some pretty wild and hilly dunes which give way to some dramatically routed holes which are brilliant. My favorite section of the course would be the stretches from 5 - 7 and 11-14. The Par 4’s 6 and 7 may have been my favorite holes. 6 with it’s green hidden in undulations and 7 which is a dogleg right par 4 with a tricky uphill approach to a sharply back to front tilted green.
I definitely enjoy the original Colt holes and would of liked to see the seaside holes that were lost some time ago. I’d highly recommend a visit to Formby and personally love to head back in the summer or fall when the course is in top shape.