Tommy Fleetwood: I like playing Formby Hall with my dad

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 7, 2024 11:31

At last month’s Genesis Invitational, Dr Kiran Kanwar PhD spoke to Tommy Fleetwood about what he loves most about the game, the clubs he played at when he was younger and what they gain today from being associated with him, and what golf can do to be more attractive to beginners.

What makes a golf club stand out? The pleasing landscapes of its holes? The challenge the golf course offers? How exclusive it is, with many well-heeled members? Or the famous golfers who are members?

For a British golf club, other than its history, perhaps the most important way it can gain fame is through its players that are known on the world stage. There have been many dominant British players, naturally, in lockstep with the long history of the sport in this country. Even in just recent years, iconic names such as Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo, Justin Rose, Colin Montgomery, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter come to mind. Of course there have been an equal number of female golfers who have made a name for their country and club, with Laura Davies perhaps being the most prominent among them.

Should the clubs take credit for these famous players? Did they, in any way, facilitate the development of these great players? Through providing facilities for junior golfers and a high quality of golf lessons?

Representing the UK in the limited-field, special event that was the Genesis Invitational were a mere three of the country’s best – Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood. The Genesis Invitational is also known as the Los Angeles Open and has, as its host charity, the Tiger Woods Foundation. This year it provided the perfect opportunity to ask one of Britain’s best how his old club back home had contributed to his rise in world golf rankings.

Tommy Fleetwood is currently 13th in the Official World Golf Rankings, while his best-ever rank has been 9th. He is often referred to as the most talented golfer to never have won a major – or a PGA Tour title, for that matter.

When asked whether he belonged to any club growing up and whether that was valuable, he replied: “I grew up (playing) at the local municipal (Southport Municipal) because they had a junior section there. Then I got a membership at a golf club called Formby Hall, where I’m still a member now. They were great. I just played golf with my dad or in his group of friends, and they were all great with me, very supportive.”

Tommy and Formby Hall coach Norman Marshall


Upon being quizzed about whether there is any golf course he always likes to play on when he’s home and what makes it so special, he said, “I like playing Formby Hall with my dad, ‘cause it’s where I grew up as a child and I think playing golf with my kids or my dad is always my favourite thing. That’s my ‘nice place’, so that would always stand out.”

What one thing would Fleetwood change about golf to make it more attractive to more people? “Maybe more nine-hole courses, maybe more par three courses. The time element. I think driving ranges are great. I think golf should be a very safe place for anybody that’s trying to take the game up. I think it’s intimidating and a hard game, so for the whole community to get people started is important. Maybe a bit shorter and easier to start with and enjoy it, and from there you’re hooked on it anyway.”

Golf clubs, there is an important lesson to be learnt from the successes of your one-time junior golfers. Encourage, motivate and support your juniors and give them the very best coaches available, not the assistant’s assistant. One of those kids might grow up and make you all proud of him or her some day.

LPGA Master instructor and The Golf Business contributor Kiran Kanwar has a PhD in kinesiology (biomechanics and anatomy) and wrote a thesis on causes of golf swing-related injuries. Kiran is also chair of Stanton University’s golf department. Visit her website


Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 7, 2024 11:31
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