Although not a pure links course it has many playing characteristics of true linksland resulting in a wonderful array of shots required.
The layout shares the same property as the much acclaimed Formby Golf Club which encircles the ladies course. And whilst often cast in the shadow of its big brother the location proves hugely beneficial because the course is played through similar sand dunes and towering pine trees that make the championship venue famous. Formby Ladies also boasts that beautifully firm and tight turf that is often only found at the very top seaside courses.
In fact the course has several similarities to many other leading golf clubs on this stretch of wonderful golfing land close to the West Coast of England. It's no surprise that it has hosted many prestigious competitions at County, National and International level including the British Girls' Home Internationals, the British Men’s Seniors and the British Women’s Seniors.
The independent Ladies Club has a vibrant membership of female golfers. One that is also growing thanks largely to a series of 'taster sessions' organised by the club. However, and thankfully for male golfers, it also warmly welcomes both genders to visit their alluring golf course and recently refurbished clubhouse. Indeed a few hours in the 'Monkey House', enjoying homemade food and beverages whilst overlooking both links, can disappear as quickly as a wayward drive into the heathery rough that borders many of the narrow fairways.
The opening and closing holes have a fantastic heathland feel to them whilst during the middle part of your round you will play through rolling sandhills, enchanting woodland and enjoy vistas from the 10th and 13th tees that cannot be matched or bettered from the men's course.
At just 5,374 yards and with a par of 71 you may head into your round expecting to chalk up a number of birdies on your scorecard, but you would be wrong. Despite the modest length it is not a course you can over-power, in fact trying to do so will undeniably lead to your downfall. Small greens coupled with tight fairways place a premium on accuracy and precision. The course features in our best golf courses under 6,000 yards.
If you are to score well at Formby Ladies you must think clearly. Each hole poses a different question and the first answer that comes to mind is not always the correct one. Those who plan, plot and think their way around the course will prosper.
Keeping the ball in play is paramount to scoring well, however, simply finding the fairway is not always sufficient because many times you must also be on the correct side of the fairway in order to get close to the hole. The opener is a prime example of this with two bunkers hampering an approach from the left-hand side. This is a theme that is prevalent throughout the round.
There's no getting away from the fact that compared to most courses (from the normal men's tees) Formby Ladies is on the short side. It has seven par fours fewer than 325 yards but it can still show some muscle at times. The sixth is the longest two-shotter on the course at 412 yards and the 13th and 15th are no pushovers either, especially into a head wind. Factor in a SSS of 67 for men and you really need to be picking strokes up at all three of the par fives too.
The quartet of short holes will test your iron play as well. The 3rd, 5th and 16th all play less than 130 yards but with tiny greens, and well placed bunkers, securing a par is no easy task. The fifth is particularly tricky with a sharp fall-off to the right whilst the 12th, housing a majestic bowl green complex, is simply exceptional and provides a fabulous contrast to the previous hole, which sweeps up to a high and exposed green.
As a test of golf Formby Ladies certainly delivers. You may be left scratching your head as to why you didn't score better and that is testament to the consistent quality of the course.
A comment I hear often from people who've only played Formby Golf Club, and therefore just seen a glimpse of the neighbouring ladies course, is along the lines of, "Well, it certainly looks impressive." I can confirm that it is.
If this is a part of the country you reside in, or intend to visit, you should make sure that Formby Ladies is close to the top of your list of courses to play.
Located close to Darlington in County Durham Rockliffe Hall has all the assets you would expect of a modern, luxury golf resort with first-class facilities.
Copt Heath is a very fine parkland golf course that requires precision, plotting and a deft touch around the slick greens.