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I was chatting with a member in Formby's locker room and he said that they get the comment about "not a links" all the time regarding the turf. He wasn't quite ready to agree but said that because of the heavy amount of play the course receives year-round, their cultivation practices are more fertilizer-heavy than any of the other links courses in the area. This results in a higher proportion of firmer bladed grasses and the ball tends to sit differently than on a links and also be "too green" in appearance.He suggested if I were interested in this issue I should play a round at the Formby Ladies course. Same soil, same weather (the Ladies course is actually circumscribed by the Formby course) but they stick to a more traditional links maintenance regimen and he claimed you could tell the difference from the first iron shot you hit there. Unfortunately, Mike Whitaker and I couldn't bring ourselves to pass up another round at Formby in order to play the Ladies so investigation of that claim awaits a return visit.For my part, the turf at Formby does not offer the same experience as up the road on the Royal Birkdale course. I would have to say the Birkdale turf was as good a ball striking experience as I'd had in my limited visits to links courses and in comparison Formby is on a different level. I'd rather hit iron shots off Formby's turf than, for instance, Walton Heath's or Alwoodley's but it's a close call.As for the trees, heather and so forth also contributing to Sean's "not a links" impression I can not say I agree. I loved the effect of the rather well-grouped tree copses combined with linksy winds and humpity-bumpity terrain. I never had a moment's parkland vibe off the Formby links, even in the most tree-lined holes on the front nine. In my book it is a links with somewhat dodgy turf, but a links indeed.
I like Birkdale a load as well, but I don't think its that much better than Formby to justify the huge difference in green fee.
I enjoyed Formby immensely and would relish a return a visit. If foks are interested in taking advantage of the £160 for a 4 ball deal sometime between now and March 30, let me know. If we get four I can try to arrange it. Ciao
Formby is currently advertising for a course manager, on the BIGGA web-site, in case anyone is interested.
Take another look at this superb course. The tour is updated and I am more impressed than ever.Ciao
Another not-a-links. I really do suspect this problem is bigger than many let on.Sean, that middle stretch of which you are fond: are the holes as narrow as many appear in the photographs?Thanks for posting,Mark