I can vouch to that!
The Philippines may be relatively unknown as a golf holiday destination, and it might be a hike for those of us in North America but it leaves a big smile on the faces of those who make the effort to get there. I made my first visit earlier this year and it won’t be my last!
The country, which promotes itself with the slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, hosted the 7th Asia Golf Tourism Convention in the capital of Manila in April as part of efforts to enhance its inbound golf visitor numbers.
There are almost 100 golf courses in the Philippines. Few are public courses; the vast majority of facilities are private country clubs or membership-oriented golf clubs that, until recently, were not that easy for visitors to access. However, AGTC shone a light on the benefits of engaging with international golf visitors and relationships with specialist golf tour operators. Around 30 clubs throughout the country now welcome visiting golfers, a number of them in Metro Manila and its environs.
Golf travel has also been recognised by the Philippines Tourism Promotions Board as a pillar of its five-year sports tourism strategy. The Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands but its golf is concentrated in a few popular and accessible locations, primarily on the main island of Luzon. Golf is an additional pull for a nation known for its tropical islands, glorious beaches, lush rainforests, pristine diving and rich history.
Wherever you play, your game is made more enjoyable by the friendly, smiling caddies!
Unlike some Asian golf destinations, clubs often employ both male and female caddies, and golfers may find their caddies not only play golf but also have lower handicaps than them! Mandatory at most courses, caddies generally cost between PHP300 and PHP500 – less than USD 10 – plus tip.
Besides having caddies to assist with your golf, some clubs also offer optional umbrella carriers who keep you shaded from the tropical sun whenever you step out of the golf buggy, walk the fairways or wait your turn to putt on the greens. At Luisita Golf Club I was fortunate to have a great caddy as well as the company of Ivy, my umbrella girl!
English is one of the country’s official languages and is spoken everywhere, making communication for many overseas golfers much easier whether in hotels, golf clubs, taxis, restaurants, shops or bars.
The Philippines’ portfolio of golf courses boasts designs by a host of famous names, among them Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer, Greg Norman and Robert Trent Jones Senior and Junior. Its courses have also played host to prestigious golf tournaments including the World Cup, Southeast Asian Games, Johnnie Walker Classic and the Philippines Golf Championship.
Accommodations range from guesthouses and boutique hotels to luxury resorts. Some golf clubs have on-site hotels while most courses are an easy journey from a number of hotel options.
These are the main areas where you can play golf in the Philippines:
Visitors spending a few days in the capital city can mix business or sightseeing with time on the fairways. Home to almost 13 million people, Metro Manila – or the National Capital Region as it is officially known – has several golf clubs that visiting golfers can take transfers from the city to play.
Lying near the heart of Manila, Intramuros Golf Club is a short par-66 public golf course that plays around the fortified 16th century walls built to protect Intramuros, the city that served as the Spanish capital of the Philippines for more than 300 years. The course is floodlit so it can also be played at night.
Just 8km east of Manila’s centre, we had the opportunity to tee it up at the wonderfully-named Wack Wack Golf Club. A private members club in the metro area’s Mandaluyong City that allows visitors to play and has two courses, it’s challenging East Course a former host of the World Cup and Philippine Open.
Sightseeing and non-golf activities
Manila is a vibrant city offering activities and attractions day and night. Highlights include the walled, colonial Intramuros city containing Manila Cathedral and the UNESCO-listed San Augustin Church, the world’s oldest Chinatown in the Binondo district, museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Manila and shopping, restaurants, casino and nightlife in Resorts World Manila. It just so happens that there is a wonderful JW Marriott right there and my home for my days in Manilla!
Central Luzon – Clark and Angeles City – A couple of hours from Manilla, we were treated to three gems.
Clark SunValley Country Club – its combined Sun and Valley 18-hole layout being set on lush hills offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and the Mount Pinatubo volcano.
Luisita Golf and Country Club, near the city of Tarlac, has an 18-hole course with narrow fairways and water hazards on 11 holes. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. half a century ago and recently revamped in consultation with the architect’s son, Robert Trent Jones Jr, it was the host venue for the Philippine Open in 2015.
Mimosa Golf Course, laid out on land that was part of the former Clark US air base, the remaining areas becoming a Freeport zone and Clark International Airport, close to Angeles City in Pampanga province. It has 36 holes of golf, including the championship Mountainview course where Tiger Woods played in an exhibition match shortly after turning professional.
Sightseeing and non-golf activities
Angeles City makes a lively base for playing courses in the area. Many of its many bars and nightclubs are open 24/7 and hotels include the ABC Hotel which just so happened to be our home for a few days! A unique boutique hotel that challenges you to live life to the fullest and it starts with its three storeys of partying in the Aqua Beach Club. It is also regarded as the culinary capital of the Philippines and the country’s famed Sisig pork dish originated in Pampanga. Adventure trips include trekking down to the lake inside Mount Pinatubo’s crater after a ride in a 4×4 version of the country’s ubiquitous, colourful Jeepney buses. Aurora’s coast, in the east of the region, has the Philippines’ best surfing.
Why do I need to go back?!?!
You would never get tired of being amongst the friendliest people in the world!
- Central Louzon / Clark and Angelese City – a clear favorite segment of my visit. Did not get to play all the courses in the region so will need to do that!
- Tagaytay Region – The mountainous region just south of Manilla. Has 11 courses in the region including the Jack Nicklaus designed Sherwood Hills Country Club ranked #1 in the Philippines by Golf Digest.
- Boracay Island – If you read my previous or part one of my Filipino adventure you know that one of the world’s most beautiful islands was shut down to tourism for six months at the end of April. Upgrades to the Islands roads and sewer systems were necessary. Scheduled to be re-opened to tourist in October. Another round or two on the Fairways & Bluewater Course would be a must! CLICK HERE to read more about my experience in Boracay.
Golf holidays in the Philippines can be booked through a number of specialist IAGTO member golf tour operators. One that I would highly recommend would be Regent Holidays based in Manilla. They were exceptional hosts for our group travels.
Either would be delighted to help you out!