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The Face of Resilience – Tagaytay Highlands weathers the challenges of 2020

The 10th hole at Tagaytay Highlands International Golf Club

2020 has been a disastrous year for the Philippines. At the onset of the year on the 12th of January, Taal Volcano broke its decades long slumber, shook the earth and spewed ash high up into the Philippine sky.

Perched on the end of the Tagaytay ridge, no golf course more adversely affected by the eruption than Tagaytay Highlands International Golf Club. It sat straight in the path of the ash cloud as the winds blew the volcanic debris North.

Its verdant fairways were unrecognizable, bearing more resemblance to ski slopes than a golf course. The greens were buried under just under a foot of ash and the damage to the rest of the property was almost incalculable. Worst of all, the ashfall made access to the property dangerous, which increased the difficulty of the crews tasked to rehabilitate the club’s facilities.

Those aren’t ski slopes; they’re the fairways of the golf course!

To add to the club’s woes, many of the club’s employees were personally affected by the eruption and incessant earthquakes, drastically reducing the number of staff available to tackle the massive task that lay before them.

It was a catastrophe.

Club management never wavered. Led by club chair Willy Ocier and club president Jerry Tiu, the club contracted the caddies to assist in the restoration efforts. It took a while but their massive efforts were rewarded.

Before they had time to celebrate, the SARS Cov-2 pandemic struck.

The resulting quarantine left the club’s staff depleted again, but again the club responded positively. Course maintenance contractor VMJ, Inc. stepped up to limit the damage that would have been caused by a drop in the quality of maintenance during such a critical juncture.

With nothing but a yawning ravine between you and the green, the tee shot on 12 is one of the most nerve-wracking on the golf course.

Walk into the club today and you’d be hard pressed to find any damage left by the ravages of 2020. The golf course is in fabulous condition. The fairways are lush and the greens are immaculate.

The only reminder of just how bad the first two quarters of the year were for the golf course is the damage to the club’s Benguet pines, which number close to a thousand.

The club is adamant to restore EVERYTHING to its original state. Chair Willy Ocier has taken particular interest in this endeavor and as such, the club is sparing nothing to revive and rehabilitate as many as they possibly can.

I was fortunate to be invited by the club to see just how well the recovery had gone. To say I was impressed was an understatement. The club and all its facilities were in pristine condition with nary a trace of the stress or damage the first half of the year brought down on the club.

The golf course plays as it always has. It remains a thinking, ball striker’s golf course. Much to the chagrin of many, good scores are very possible here, but it requires discipline, good command of your golf ball and a modicum of luck. It is also the most unique golf course in the country; few can rival its setting and beauty.

Tagaytay Highlands remains the crown jewel of the Tagaytay Ridge.

Sunrise from the balcony of the Belleview at Tagaytay Highlands

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