Formby Golf Club Feature Review
Review by Golfshake Ambassador Richard Moore
Quite simply: If you love golf, you must stay and play at Formby Golf Club. Everything is so magical from start to finish, top to bottom, dusk till dawn, it is the ultimate English golfing experience. Some say Formby is three courses in one - which is true. This was my third 'stay and play' and I'm looking to book my fourth. It is not a hotel, but that just adds to it!
Formby is located right along the Southport to Liverpool railway - the train sound really adds to the experience. But if you travel by rail alight at Freshfields not Formby station. Neighbouring courses include Birkdale and Hillside to the north and West Lancs to the south. All worthy of a visit whilst there.
Formby GC is an experience not to be missed.
The excitement builds as you drive over the railway line at Freshfields and turn onto Golf Road past the eye-watering houses that line the road owned by the likes of Liverpool FC legends!
Julie Strong is in charge of the administration and organises all of our golf and accommodation. So when we turned up it was simply a question of allocating room keys for the dormy rooms (I recommend twin room #2 which has unbelievable views over the course next to the historic clock) then out onto the course.
We played both rounds on different days.
There is a grass driving range (complimentary) which is about a five minute walk close to the 15th hole on the Ladies Course (14th green on Formby) that is worth using.
Starting with Formby Golf Club itself. This layout opens with three glorious heathland holes that run alongside the Southport to Liverpool railway line.
Deep bunkers and well framed greens are a joy to behold. The par 5 3rd is a super hole where the fairway runs at an angle from the tee, so you need to pick how much you want to cut off (but beware the bunkers that lie in wait your tee shot – especially if knocked down by the wind which mine was). A fantastic par 5 hole.
The 6th hole is a wonderful dog-leg with a blind shot into the green, but only a good tee shot will give you an approach in regulation.
The 7th and 8th holes are quirky through the woodland section of the course. The par 5 8th is a wonderful three shot hole snaking round the woods. The elevated tee provides a sight of its own which lures you into taking driver off the tee but so much danger awaits. The 8th is really unique and has many photographs on the website and around the clubhouse. It is a masterclass in strategy.
But the 9th is a sight to behold. An elevated tee which provides the only views of the sea, and downhill to a tight fairway which runs out to a 100 yard area of rough before you reach the apron to the green. A phenomenal hole to play and to view.
The back nine is more links like and provides fewer stunning vistas but more exacting golf, with fairways narrowed by channelling dunes and gorse bushes and greens with approaches pinched in to provide obscured views of flags. It is all great fun.
The last two holes that bring you back to the clubhouse return you to heathland. The 18th in front of the clubhouse looks nonchalant from the fairway but hides a monster of a green. The green is huge and the bunkers (many of which are hidden) are far bigger than they appear due to the fast terrain around then and the big catchment area is ready to swallow your ball. Beware!
Formby is pure class.
The Ladies Course has some great heathland and links like holes - like Formby itself but is much different. Some treat it as inferior due to its length but don't be fooled or lured into thinking you will overpower it. One member simply said: "Leave your driver in the car!"
My playing partner plays off a 4 handicap and thinks it is a better test of golf than Formby. It is tight. So, if you miss the fairway you are dropping shots as the heather is punishing or the rough so deep you can't see your feet in places.
"Fairways and greens" is the pro's advice in the shop and "aim for what you can see!" Great advice which saw us both par and birdie the first five holes, but all you need to be is six inches off the fairway (like on the sixth for me) to be hacking sideways. So, it is a thinking person's course!
The back nine provides some stunning tee shots like on the elevated 10th, 11th and 13th.
The greens are a little slower than Formby, but overall it is a fantastic course, and a great finish back towards the clubhouse.
And it is the clubhouse which really provides the icing on the cake. Everyone is so friendly amongst the catering staff that you meet. If staying in the dormy on the second floor you get to use the snooker room on the first floor with photos of all the captains in the red blazers and white bow ties dating back 100 years. The snooker table and ex-Championship balls are only courtesy of one John Parrott who is also a member at Formby. This kind of freely available service is just part of the magical experience. I can't recommend it enough.
£185 in the summer gets you on both courses with a dormy stay of £55 per night including a full breakfast is amazing value.
Formby Golf Club members are so friendly, and this sums up the whole experience. I've been three times to Formby and can't wait to book the next three. The photos I took will be looked at for the rest of the year!
Overall Rating - 10
Course (Conditions) - 10
Course (Hole Variety/Layout) - 10
Course (Green Condition) - 10
Course (Challenge/Difficulty) - 10
Club Facilities & 19th/Clubhouse - 10
Practice Facilities - 10
Friendliness/Hospitality - 10
Pace of Play - 10
Value for Money - 10
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|Formby Golf Club
from 57 reviews