It’s a par-5 that has its admirers and detractors and, thanks to Martin Ebert, the 8th is about to get a big revamp
If there is a ‘Marmite’ hole at Formby Golf Club then it’s probably the 8th.
It forms part of a memorable stretch at the Merseyside links, a loop playing host to one of Britain’s best short 4s in the 7th as well as a fabulous 9th with a green framed by pines and sea.
But that par 5 penultimate hole on the front nine, which bedevils the average player with its narrow fairway landing off the tee and which dips on both sides, can divide opinion.
Now it’s set to be revamped as the star of a £750,000 course upgrade project.
Formby have called in Mackenzie & Ebert, course architects to many Open venues, and a multi-year scheme is set to get under way this winter.
Martin Ebert has recommended a series of improvements, including widening and re-bunkering the 1st fairway, adjusting the 6th to create more of a dogleg, and building dunes and dune slacks around the 16th.
Ebert said: “Golf at Formby comes with a serious feeling of class which begins with the arrival at the clubhouse and continues throughout a wonderful tour of a tremendously varied 18 holes.”
It’s the lengthening and reshaping of the 8th that leaps off the page in Ebert’s masterplan and Formby secretary/manager Stuart Leech reckons it will become a very exciting hole.
“It’s a par 5 but it’s right on the upper limit of a par 4 in terms of length and the proposal is to add some length to the tee shot for both the yellow, white and blue championship tee, which will mean that everyone is going to be hitting to the same sort of area on the fairway,” he explains.
“At the moment, the elite players are basically missing the first part of the fairway and going straight over to the second and playing it as a par 4.
“If we can make them play it as a par 5, as well as still having provision for some other forward tees on some holes to make sure all standards will play, then that’s an exciting development because it’s a great second shot.
“It lengthens the approach and makes it really risk and reward – do I go for it or do I not? If you don’t the layup is challenging and the third shot that you leave is challenging.
“It will play very differently to how it does at the moment.”
Formby will embark on one large project each year, while interspersing smaller improvements throughout each 12 month span.
No greens are being modified and the work, starting this winter, will add to the aesthetics and playability of certain holes.
Leech added: “We’ve also got a few holes where we’ve got over 100 yards carry to the fairway. One of the other provisions Martin has made on four or five of the holes is to add a forward tee in.
“That means some of our older members can continue to play and enjoy for a little bit longer than they may otherwise have done.
“We’re not just looking at elite golfers and championships. We are looking at every standard of golfer and trying to enhance it for every level.”
What do you think of the course changes at Formby? Have your say in the comments or tweet me.