Formby Golf Club

Formby Golf Club | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

Formby Golf Club is situated on the west coast of England, in a region that plays host to a trio Open Championship venues, among a host of world class golfing venues.

Founded in 1884, Formby is a true championship links golf course. It is a mixture of mature sand dunes, undulating fairways and well protected greens, with incredible views of the Irish Sea.

The rugged, natural dunes artfully intertwined with the landscape and bunkers that beckon strategy, golfers must navigate the terrain with artful skill. Factor in the ever-present coastal winds, and each club selection and shot execution has to be spot on to produce a good score. 

As an establishment situated in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Formby Golf Club proudly upholds its commitment to conserving the unique coastal ecosystem that surrounds it. Collaborating with conservation organizations, the club safeguards this natural habitat and its diverse wildlife.


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A Brief History of Formby Golf Club

Formby Golf Club, located in Formby, Merseyside, England, has a rich and storied history dating back to the late 19th century.

Formby Golf Club was established in 1884. It was founded by a group of local golf enthusiasts who recognized the potential of the coastal dunes in Formby as an ideal location for a golf course. The original course was relatively basic compared to the modern layout. 

In 1912, the club relocated to its present location in Freshfield, approximately two miles from the original site. The move allowed for the creation of a more challenging and picturesque links course, as it took full advantage of the natural sand dunes and terrain.

The redesigned course at Freshfield was the work of renowned golf course architect Willie Park Jr. His layout integrated the natural dunes and rolling terrain, making Formby one of the most visually stunning and challenging links courses in the UK.

Formby Golf Club has a history of hosting prestigious golf events, including the Open Championship Qualifying tournaments. The course's challenging nature and stunning vistas have made it a favorite among amateur and professional golfers alike. While preserving its historic traditions, the club has also modernized its facilities, including the clubhouse, practice areas, and course maintenance, to meet the needs of its members and visitors.

Formby Golf Club's location on the Sefton coast places it in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The club has been proactive in preserving the unique ecosystem of the coastal dunes. They have worked with conservation organizations to protect the environment while maintaining a top-quality golf course.

Formby Golf Club Review | NCG Top 100s: GB&I Golf Courses

In the midst of a region dominated by seaside golf – most notably the three Open-hosting Royals of Lytham, Birkdale and Liverpool – Formby offers welcome respite. Not in terms of the challenge, it must be said, at a championship course recently lengthened to the now-mandatory 7,000 yards and notable for the demands it places on solid, accurate driving. More because with several holes flanked by trademark pines it has a level of shelter and gentleness quite lacking from true links. It is one of those special courses resistant to easy classification. If Ganton really is an inland links then Formby is a seaside woodland course.
 
Indeed, in relatively recent times Formby has acquired an even more inland feel. In the early 1970s the club were forced to abandon three coastal holes that were gradually being eroded and create replacements further inland. The result is a course that only occasionally feels like a seaside one despite being constantly close to the Irish Sea. Indeed, it comes as rather a shock when, as happens sporadically here, you emerge from relative shelter to be exposed for a few moments to the full force of the wind.

Independently maintained with its own clubhouse, a game here is a treat in itself. A closer look at Formby’s history shows its commitment to the amateur game. Almost every event that matters has visited here at some point, with the 1984 Amateur Championship, a source of particular pride to the club.

Formby is also unusual in that it has a designated ladies’ course, one of only three in the country, which is encircled by the main course.

One Jose Maria Olazabal took care of a certain Colin Montgomerie in the final and those with an eye for such details will know that when they met in the singles at the Seve Trophy in 2005, it was the first time they had played against each other directly since.

Along with two other Amateur Championships, there have also been numerous English Amateurs and Brabazon Trophies. It was with continuing to host events of such prestige in mind that the club, which has always been a progressive one, decided to lengthen the course in the late 1990s.
 
Originally a nine-holer back in 1874, multiple Open champion Willie Park laid out the original 18 with the ubiquitous James Braid helping to redesign the closing stretch to take the holes away from new housing early in the 20th century.
 
In the 1970s Martin Hawtree designed the three new holes and now, from the blue tees, the original bunkering is brought back into play. This is nowhere better in evidence than at the long 3rd.
 
Not only does the new tee stretch the hole to over 530 yards, it also creates a new angle for the drive. Anyone wanting to have a chance of reaching the green in two must take their drive over heavy rough and a nest of bunkers on the angle of the dogleg. It is a demanding shot, but the rewards are sufficiently high to be tempting. In short, it is everything a good par five should be. Other highlights include the 7th, as difficult a 420-yarder as you are likely to find.
 
The fairway is narrow and looks more so because of the trees on either side, while the green is elevated and to the right. Effectively, to find it you need to be on the left side of the hole and since it slopes severely from back to front three putts are possible from just about anywhere. From the turn the land is more open and the long par fours come thick and fast – five in a row from the 11th – and while none by itself is especially terrifying together they form a decisive stretch of holes. The short 16th is a welcome interlude before the best birdie chance of the day at the par-five 17th.
 
It may be, in time, that the club decide to move the back tee at the last further into the trees. Certainly, as it is, the tee shot disappointingly lacks definition for the culmination of a course of such calibre.
 
Alongside the amazingly large, flat putting surface – a design philosophy of Braid’s was that the final green ought to be welcoming and gentle, so that a golfer might hole a putt and leave with fond memories and therefore be encouraged to return – stands Formby’s imposing clubhouse.
 
Even though it is not unheard of for a good course to have a sub-standard clubhouse, or vice versa for that matter, in this case the two provide the perfect match.

What is the dress code at Formby Golf Club?

As an old and traditional members club, smart attire is required at all times at Formby.
On the Course:
  • Shirts must have collars/polo necks and must be tucked in
  • Trousers and shorts must be tailored
  • Women must wear conventional golf clothing

In the Clubhouse:
  • Smart casual golfing attire
  • Tailored golf shorts are allowed in the Hall Bar, Golfer's Bar and Locker Room
  • Soft spike golf shoes are allowed in the Hall Bar
  • No wet clothing in the Clubhouse

Jeans, tracksuits, cargo shorts, vests, t-shirts and halter-neck/round-neck tops are not allowed at Formby.

Is Formby Golf Course suitable for beginners?

Yes. Formby Golf Club strikes a balance that's both challenging for experienced golfers seeking to put their skills to the test and welcoming for newcomers looking to refine their game. It offers an ideal setting for golfers of all levels to hone their skills and enjoy the journey of improvement.

What are the green fees at Formby?

The most expensive green fee at Formby comes in the summer months. A round at the weekend will set you back £280, while playing through the week will cost £250.

Those prices come down to £235 and £210, respectively, in October. A four-ball through the winter months will cost a group £480, equating to £110pp.

Where is Formby Golf Club located?

Formby Golf Club is located on the western coast of England, just outside the Merseyside town of Formby. It is just down the road from Hillside and Southport & Ainsdale Golf Clubs as well.

For international visitors, both Liverpool John Lennon and Manchester Airports provide daily international flights, with both within an hour from Formby.


Visit Formby's website here.
Go back to the NCG Top 100s Homepage.