Formby Golf Club is a true championship links course but unlike any other. The layout is unique in that there is a ladies course in the centre of the 470 acres of land. The routing of the men’s course encircles the ladies course in an anticlockwise direction.
There is no out and back routing or twin loops just one continuous loop. The next variation is the makeup of the terrain. Although it is not as close to the sea as many links courses it is classified as a true link.
However, some of the holes actually appear to be more heathland than links and there is a profusion of pine and birch trees which can provide considerable protection from the wind off the Irish Sea. The combination of well protected greens, heather bordering rough and challenging tee shots ensures that Formby is a course of magnificent contrasts and variety.
1884 - Club founded at the instigation of John Bushby, subscriptions set at 1 Guinea (£1.05)
1891 - Clubhouse built at a cost of £2000
1899 - Major fire which destroyed the Clubhouse
1901 - Opening of the current clubhouse built at a cost of £7000
1909 - Clock presented by Bruce Ismay - Chairman of White Star Line & Titanic Fame
Mr E Storey’s (one of the early trustees) widow presented the Hippo Trophy to the club after his death
1912 - The original 18 hole course was redesigned by Willie Park and a plan of the course at this time is displayed in the Hall Bar. Alongside is the 1994 plan showing the changes that have taken place in the intervening years.
1914 - Club used as soldier's convalescence home
1922 - James Braid changed the original 15th – 18th layout to provide extra length and to move the 17th when it was realised that Shireburn Road and houses were to be constructed to its right.
1929 - Visit by HRH Prince of Wales - Later Edward Vlll - Later Duke of Windsor
1933 - Alterations by Harry Colt, the 2nd, 5th and 18th holes re-bunkered
1945 - Junior officers of the troopship "Veteran" strapped the Hippo to a searchlight platform. The Hippo survived a trip under fire to Narvic, delivering troops to the Norwegian fiords and he returned relatively unscathed. Commemorated annually with the "Hippo Competition" and a handsome replica trophy.
1945 - War Memorial Tablet 1914–1918 = 29 Members 1939–1945 = 10 Members
1980 - Donald Steel re-models the course following extensive coastal erosion
1998 - New back Tees were built to provide a “Blue” course which has extended the length to 7031 yards but more importantly has brought back into play, for the scratch golfer, most of the original drive-length bunkers
7031 yards, par 72
Few golfing destinations can rival Formby for the variety of the holes, its superb condition and fairways that play firm and fast. The Club is one of the classic courses of the Lancashire coastline.
Although somewhat protected from the elements by pine trees that line several of the holes, the course is a tough one, particularly when the wind does breakthrough. Such is the profusion of wildlife and plants at Formby that it has been declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest with the magnificent dunes a designated conservation area.
The club is unique in Britain for within the boundary of its own course is the completely independent Formby Ladies Golf Club, which was founded in 1896. Visitors are most welcome throughout the year on non-competition days.
The course is ranked in the top 20 in England but does not quite make the World Rankings. The routing is unusual and ensures that the wind will eventually be encountered from every direction. It is a stunning rollercoaster of a course where creative shots are rewarded and the greens are firm and fast but often tricky.
The club has hosted many important national and regional amateur golf events, particularly four Amateur Championships. It was on this course that Jose-Maria Olazabal beat Colin Montgomerie to win the final of The Amateur Championship in 1984.
The excellence of the course was underlined once again in 2004, when the Club had the honour of hosting the Curtis Cup. This is the world's greatest team event in Ladies Amateur Golf. A match against the USA by a team from Great Britain and Ireland.
Formby is at the forefront of amateur championship golf in the U.K. It also hosted a final qualifying course for The Open in 2006. The course has been modelled by three of golf's greatest architects, Braid, Colt and Steel. Accuracy and concentration are prerequisites for every hole, with the heather and rough forming a natural boundary together with bunkers and sandhills.
The course is in good condition all year round. Uniquely visitors can access both the men’s championship course and the Formby Ladies Golf Club on the same golf trip and over a weekend as well. It is located on England’s Golf Coast, just half an hour north of Liverpool by car.
Formby Golf Club is lesser-known than its ‘Royal’ neighbours, but the links design, flanked by tall pine trees creates a truly stunning experience. Both Formby Men’s and Ladies Golf Clubs allow play over the weekend with a selection of visitor tee times, and there is availability throughout the week at both courses.
Formby Golf Club and Formby Ladies are classified as true links golf courses. However, parts of the course have the outward appearance of a classic Heathland course and it is sometimes referred to as a hybrid.
432 yards, par 4, index 11
The opening holes run parallel to the railway. The first is framed by tall pines and heather comes into play. There is out of bounds with the railway on the right and the trees and heather will impede your approach. It requires an accurate tee shot avoiding the fairway bunkers. The green slopes from front to back, middle of the green would be a safe opening approach shot.
400 yards, par 4, index 9
A conservative tee shot should steer its way by the fairway bunkers. The hole is set between avenues of Birch and Pine. This is a tough green to hit but do not miss it on the right which will seriously test your short game.
542 yards, par 5, index 3
This is a tough hole but can be reachable in two in favourable conditions. However, the green is well protected by vast bunkers. If you plan to lay up, make sure you leave yourself short of the middle fairway bunker about 100 yards to the green. Consider where the pin is located on this two-tier green otherwise, a tricky putt may follow.
312 yards, par 4, index 15
From the tee, a drive down the middle will set you up to attack the flag. Avoid trouble down the right side. There are five bunkers guarding the green which needs care in reading the borrows.
183 yards, par 3, index 17
Here you start a run of holes with more elevation changes and dunes. The elevated undulating green has serious trouble on the left with three well-placed pot bunkers. Read the green with care noting the bordering slopes.
430 yards, par 4, index 7
There is a high dune to the left. From the tee drive over the corner of the hill on your left avoiding bunkers in the fairway. There are hills in front of the green which can leave a blind approach and need more club than it first appears. The green has a ridge running through it which can affect the pace of a putt.
419 yards, par 4, index 13
This is a scenic but difficult narrow dog leg played uphill between light fir trees to a severely sloping green. From the tee aim to be central at the top of the hill to give you the best view of the green. With the approach try to leave an uphill putt.
483 yards, par 5, index 1
The course turns out towards the beach. It is a very challenging drive. From the raised tee the landing area is restricted and set at an angle to the left of the tee.
A double tier well-contoured green provides a stern challenge. Note the tier where the flag is located, because if your approach finishes on the wrong tier, a very tricky two putt could follow.
450 yards, par 4, index 5
This is said to be the most picturesque hole on the course offering a glimpse of the Irish Sea from the elevated tee box. It is also known as one of the toughest requiring two very good shots to the green.
From the tee play between the two fairway bunkers leaving you a long iron or rescue club to the green depending on the power of the prevailing wind. The green is framed by trees and small dunes. The back nine is a more traditional link style.
215 yards, par 3, index 16
The hole plays back away from the sea. You need a good drive on this long par three. Club selection is critical particularly into or with a strong wind. The ball will normally feed from the right to the left of the green.
422 yards, par 4, index 12
From the tee, a good shot is required. There is trouble down the right on this hole so drive left of centre through fescue clad mounds on either side of the fairway. The large green is circled by dunes. Good distance control is required to make your score.
421 yards, par 4, index 4
This is considered to be one of the best holes on the course. It moves gently from right to left. From the tee aim left of centre to take the trouble on the right out of play. This gains a good angle to the green, but the entrance to the green is tight and a bunker on the left side of the green is a problem. Make sure that you take enough club to find the green.
431 yards, par 4, index 10
From the tee, a drive short of the fairway bunkers on the right is best. This is one of the trickiest fairways on the course as it contours wickedly with seven fairway bunkers to contend with.
The approach shot can be to the bank on the left of the green that will kick the ball back towards the centre of the green. The green slopes from front to back and from left to right so care is required reading your putts.
428 yards, par 4, index 6
From the elevated tee, a particular highlight is the clubhouse in the distant background. Drive over the left hand mounds. The approach can be a run upshot to the green. This is a quick green that is tricky to read so consider each putt carefully.
400 yards, par 4, index 2
This is the last of a run of tough par four holes. It has no bunkers but at index 2 it is clearly no pushover, particularly in a strong wind. From the tee, the best drive is down the right. This leaves a downhill approach played through a narrow entrance to the two tiered green.
139 yards, par 3, index 18
This is a gem of a tricky short par three. It is a test of your distance control, especially when into the wind. Most of the trouble is short of the green so take enough club. On the Green, many putts will move from left to right. Holes seventeen and eighteen return to Heathland.
484 yards, par 5, index 8
This is one of the few holes where a birdie is possible, particularly when downwind. From the tee down the right centre will allow you the chance to take on the green with your second.
The problem as always is avoiding the fairway and greenside bunkers. Then your approach must find the correct tier with the flag or you will have a very testing two putt.
440 yards, par 4, index 14
From the back tee, you need to play for position to avoid the fairway bunkers. A good drive down the left is a good option for a nice angle to the green. The green is long so take your time over club selection for your approach.
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