Formby - Lancashire - England

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.

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Description: 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. Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Reviews: 52
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Vorndron
Played here for a third year running and have to say I enjoy it more every time. The course like previous reviews suggest has a real mixture of holes, some links, some through the pines etc but the run from the par 3 5th to the par 3 10th are superb. The course wasn't over tough from the tee as the rough wasn't grown that high but I imagine it could be in the summer months. Having played all the courses on the Lancashire coast, with the exception of RLSA, Formby rates very highly. A must play course and I'll be back again next year definatley.
March 27, 2011
10 / 10
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Paul
Truly lovely place to play golf. Really pretty, with a mixture of pines and links. Very impressed the course, and loved the circular layout meaning you played shots with, against and across the wind. No blind shots of note. Loved it!
September 25, 2009
10 / 10
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Dan Hare
I played Formby a couple of weeks ago very early on a very windy morning.Really enjoyed the course, nicely set up and great condition, but with the rough up it was super hard in the conditions. Once you are in the rough it is very hard to get out, and once you are on the fairway it is very difficult to stay there !Highly recommended, and if you have the time park in the National Trust car park and ramble around the beach, forest and dunes - real Lawrence of Arabia stuff. Would love to come back and play and stay in the dormy at the top of the club house.
August 28, 2009
8 / 10
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Artur Stankiewicz
This past May I have played all top courses in the area, Hoylake, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham included, with Formby being the last one of the trip. I can support all great reviews regarding the unique character of this track, its quality and condition - its purely one of the best 'players' golf courses, period - demanding yet not overkill, beautiful with a great flow. My opinion has nothing to do with my score (in fact my best score was at Royal Lytham) and is purely based on experience of playing great courses around the World incl. majority of the Open courses and their qualifier "tracks". This is the one to NOT miss if you love golf.
July 26, 2009
10 / 10
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Patrick Skakel
Superb course, much lower than it should be in the rankings! The course is very tough, and like other courses in the area, you will be punished if you miss the fairways. The course is well bunkered and is a superb mix of links and heath, plus a day ticket is half of what it you pay to play Birkdale. Can't say enough good things about this course, one of the best in England. Beauty and a brute combined with fantastic practice facilities. Every hole is interesting and the 9th is particularly tough into wind, a 450 yard par 4 with a tight fairway. Superb!
July 17, 2009
10 / 10
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AS
I was left a little disappointed by the course because it receives so many rave reviews. It certainly is a mix of style - some links (although I don't agree with some of the comments about it being a classic links at all!), some parkland and some heathland. I found the course therefore lacked flow, continuity and consistency. The opening four and closing few holes were flat and the weakest on the course and the 16th, a pitch and putt par 3, contributed to a limp closing set of holes. There is however a tremendous mix of holes running from the par 3 5th that make the most of some interesting terrain - the 7th, 8th and 9th are consecutively superb golf holes. A good to very good course but not, in my opinion, any better.
May 24, 2009
6 / 10
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G Davies
September 25, 2014
SAD THAT YOU FELT DISSAPOINTED AT FORMBY BUT THOUGHT YOU MUST BE THE MOST FINNICKITY SINGLE PERSON TO HAVE PLAYED IT.PERHAPS A RETURN INTHE SUMMER MONTHS WOULD MIGHT ALLOW YOU TO SEE AT ITS BEST. THE WORD LIMP IN YOUR SUMMARY DOES THE COURSE A DISCOURTESY .
Malcolm Searle
Played here in May - to echo others previous comments - you'll need to make the most of the relatively straightforward first few holes, but this doesn't mean they're easy, you'll need to be on your best game as the strongest holes are in the middle, with 6 though to 10 being the cream of the crop. The 7th definitely being my favourite, a straight shot through a pine forest onto the narrow fairway is required here, followed by a good second shot onto an elevated green. I was pleased to bogey the 8th (par 5, SI-1). It was nice to eventually glimpse the sea in the distance when we got to the 9th. which is followed by the par 3 10th, 215 yards in a hideous cross-wind. Virtually every hole has danger lurking on both sides to punish wayward shots, whether it's glorious yellow gorse, or thick heather or the bunkering - I did have to smile as my friend went into a good proportion of the 83 bunkers, including 2 on the 18th! As the course is arranged in a circle around Formby Ladies course, rather than just out and back, you will get the wind from every conceivable angle whatever the prevailing direction. On the whole, the course has a lot to commend it, it's a nice mixture of links, heath and parkland. You wouldn't normally get this amount of pine trees (or often any substantial trees) on a links course, but it makes for a nice contrast and keeps it varied and interesting, you'll need to be on your mettle on this course, "straight and accurate" are words I repeated to myself more than once in the car park! It's quite old school and formal here, but none the worse for that, the members are very aware and proud of the history of the club and their course, which was in great condition. I did see one old gentleman playing in plus fours, but it wasn't stuffy, and we played through two other four balls who were less fortunate with their drives than we were. Just remember you'll need a jacket for the dining room, but we found the bar snacks sufficient for our needs and everyone was very friendly and accommodating. In retrospect I should have stayed at the dormy house for £135 B&B, and played twice, as this fee would have included a day ticket, which is incredibly good value for a course of this stature. Really enjoyed it, and will be back!
May 24, 2009
8 / 10
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Christian Abrahamsen
Simply fantastic, this is a highly enjoyable course from start to finish. Very good turf and greens, with varied and picturesque holes this is one of my favourite courses that I've played. Each hole feels quite distinct and requires a different approach. I already look forward to playing there again.
May 18, 2009
8 / 10
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Sam Baldwin
Formby is a magnicent golf course. We played the course in March and the condition was outstanding. The tees, fairways and greens were extremely well kept and all were flat with plenty of grass. Having played S&A and Hoylake, I can say that this course looks twice as good and plays just as well as the Open Championship course.I would greatly recommend this to any golfer, but be warned it is very tough throughout. And we chatted to John Parrott about the wonderful place for 10 minutes before the round!!
March 15, 2009
8 / 10
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Blake Norton
Played it just before christmas... WOW what a course. It was out of this world. We stood on nearly every hole and said "how good does this hole look!!" This course is a must play and up there with the best (Hillside, Birkdale, etc) I will certainly be back.
March 10, 2009
8 / 10
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