There is no shortage of clubs in the ceremonial county of Lancashire, which has seen a growing number of courses since the 1900s. Over 15 Open Championships have been held in this area, and the interest in golf leaves many greenkeepers focusing on making their courses as resilient as possible. Many have turned to ecological solutions that both increase the resilience to footfall, while maintain and promoting local wildlife.
Formby Golf Club
Formby Golf Club is a 350-acre links course that was established in 1884. It has proudly been host to a significant number of prestigious tournaments including the Amateur Championship, English Amateur Championship, Open Championship final qualifying, the Curtis Cup and the Arnold Palmer Cup. Paul Swift has been a greenkeeper there since 1983 and became Course and Estate Manager in 2008. He spoke to us about some of the ecological challenges and developments that have taken place at the course in recent years.
The course had to re-design four of the holes back in 1984 due to coastal erosion and this is an issue still affecting the coastline in the area today. The Club has recently been looking at ways to futureproof the course in this respect and has now planned a potential contingency layout to carry the Club through the next 80 years based upon current erosion predictions. However, unlike most links courses where you might not expect to find many trees, this is far from the case at Formby. There is extensive woodland and the club works closely with the Forestry Commission in order to remove or maintain the trees. The course itself is sand based but the greens are laid on a soil base. There is a 9 member greens committee that meets regularly to discuss how to maintain these greens at the exceptional standard that members have come to expect. Verti-Drain machines are used in order to facilitate their drainage and the absorption of organic fertilisers. The end result is a top quality course that makes exceptional use of its challenging geographical location.