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While the Philippines isn’t the first country that comes to mind when you think of golf, the country’s long history with the sport may surprise you. Made up of 7,107 islands, the Philippines is divided into three main regions: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. It lies smack bang in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it accessible to neighboring Asian countries such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, and China. It is known for its spectacular beaches, lush mountains, and some of the friendliest locals. However, unbeknownst to many, the country also has a rich golfing history.
A feature published on the Philippine Star on golf history reveals that the sport was introduced to the Philippines in 1886 by the British, who were employed under the Manila Railway Corporation. The story goes that they built a three-hole golf course in the paddy fields of Intramuros, and the rest, as they say, is history. If this has got you interested, read on for our pick of 5 truly unique Philippine golf courses.
Found within the historic walled city of Intramuros is the aptly named Club Intramuros. While considered a historic site in itself, the club is home to the country’s oldest golf course. The course was officially opened in the 1930s, but has been around for much longer. When the Philippines became a territory of the United States in 1901, a 9-hole golf course was built. This golf course paved the way towards the creation of the Manila Golf Club, which later on founded the Philippine Open in 1913.
Today, the golf course stands as a testament to the country’s rich golfing history. It features 18 holes, which can be completed in around two hours. Although modest in size, the course boasts many challenges, such as water hazards, and sand traps, to ensure that things are kept interesting. The course is also located in the heart of Manila close to many Philippine landmarks, such as Rizal Park, Fort Santiago, and the Manila Cathedral — all in all, making it a great course.
In contrast, the Anvaya Cove course is the youngest of the bunch, having opened in December 2013. It is situated in a seaside residential community 130 meters above sea level and set against the views of the Bataan range and the waters of Subic Bay. As you go through the course, you’ll be sure to notice the hills and verdant rainforests situated above the surf below. The course’s stunning beauty is definitely one of its highlights.
The 7,030-yard course was designed by Golfplan partner and architect Kevin Ramsey. It is the variety among the 18 holes at the Anvaya Cove course that gives it its personality and makes it so memorable. Despite its length, the course really does have a bit of everything. It will make sure to keep you on your toes without being too difficult. The course is set on mini Verde, a micro-Bermuda hybrid that fits well with the Philippines’ tropical setting.
While Intramuros is known as the birthplace Philippine golf, there is no doubt that the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club is its mecca. The Wack Wack course is home to the country’s oldest and most storied golf tournament — the Philippine Open.
The Philippine Open started in 1913, and has been going strong through the years. The event is now held at a variety of different golf courses around the country. It was mostly held in the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club from the 1960s until the early 1990s — making the tournament synonymous with the course. The Wack Wack Golf and Country Club complex features two 18-hole championship courses. Each have hosted the likes of Jackie Burke, Lloyd Mangrum, Billy Casper, Peter Thomson, Norman Von Nida, Slammin’ Sam Snead, Kel Nagle, Bruce Crampton, and Ed “Porky” Oliver. The course also continues to make history, as award-winning golfer Bianca Pagdanganan broke the courses’ record for the lowest three-day score in tournament history with a -16 in 2017. The Wack Wack course is a worthwhile stop for golf enthusiasts who have found their way to Philippine shores.
This course is situated within the premises of the Hacienda Luisita, an estate that stretches over 16,000 acres in Central Luzon. The course is the only one design by renowned course designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in the entirety of Asia.
Built by the Cojuangco family in the 1960s, the course was the first to use modern turf grass, with Tifton 419 on the fairways and Tifdwarf on the greens. The club has since been transferred under the ownership of Martin Lorenzo, and under his care, the course has flourished. Water plays a large part in the course, as it traverses a winding creek and several lakes that provide a worthwhile challenge for golfers.
Lastly, the Tagaytay Highlands International Golf Club is absolutely immaculate. As you enter the golf club, you are greeted by a 3,000-meter road leading to the clubhouse. The road overlooks Taal Lake and the Taal Volcano, which in itself is a sight to behold.
But as for the main attraction of Philippine golf, the Tagaytay Highlands club offers two unique courses: the Midlands and the Highlands. Daydreaming in Paradise details that the challenging 18-hole course was designed by renowned golf architect Richard Bigler and, while fairly short, boasts tight and well-protected fairways that will have you working on your accuracy. Elevation changes within the course are ever-present and provide golfers with a scenic view of its surroundings. All this makes the course definitely worth the trip away from the bustling city life of Manila.
So, there you have it — 5 of the most unique courses located in the Philippines. If you’re looking to enjoy a golfing tour across Asia, then consider India as another worthwhile stop. Our correspondent Dave Finn has written an account of his experiences playing golf in Delhi, so be sure to check that out too!
Piece exclusively written for www.golftravelandleisure.com
by Jaxon Brodey