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If You Can Play Well Here, You Can Play Well Anywhere - The Nicklaus Course at Forest Hills G&CC

 

One of the most underrated golf courses in the country has to be Forest Hills Golf and Country Club’s Nicklaus Course in Cogeo, Rizal. It is one of the best ball strikers’ golf courses in the country - to paraphrase Frank Sinatra, if you can play well here, you can play well anywhere.

The Nicklaus is a tough track. The USGA course ratings of 74.7 and slope of 138 make the Nicklaus all most golfers can handle (the blues are not much easier at 72.8/134). For a course that plays to a par of 71, this is just one heck of a golf course.

The hilly topography makes a cart almost essential. The holes themselves are walkable but the green to tee distances will tire you out. These same topographical features will place the most severe demands on your ball striking.

Even lies on some holes don't exist. You can avoid them a few holes by playing to flat spots in the fairway, but times this will leave you far back enough to push you to the edge of your comfort zone.

Distance control with your approach shots is key. The most difficult greens play uphill. Judging the elevation and the wind correctly will have a huge effect on your score to the good.

Once on, the greens are fabulous. You can putt the visible break and expect predictable results. The approaches are firm, allowing you several options of how to handle balls just off the putting surface. 

The opening nine is picturesque but the golf course comes into its own on the inward nine. Holes 11 through 16 are as good a stretch of golf as you'll find anywhere in the country. They're also among the most difficult with 12 and 14 deserving of special mention.

The view from the 12th tee is the best on the golf course. The fairway looks like a green ribbon partially obscured by the treeline. It takes courage to get the ball started on the ideal line. The green is an elevated multi-tiered affair. It's a tough target. 

14 is only slightly less difficult but plays similarly; off an elevated tee to an elevated green. In true Nicklaus fashion, both greens sit at oblique angles to the line of approach. Both demand the very best from your iron play. 

The 18th green used to be an object of derision. It had a pot bunker right in the center which wreaked havoc with both members and guests. Nicklaus and the club renovated it last year and the community quarantine allowed the green to fully grow it. The new green is large with multiple tiers. There are a number of interesting pin positions available but it's almost as demanding as the old green.

Forest Hills might be demanding, but it asks you to hit some really interesting shots. Because of the elevation changes, you'll need a high ball; both off the tee and into the green. The firm conditions give you options approaching the pin and the greens are subtle and firm. The Nicklaus Course is the complete package and it'll make you a better golfer. 

 

 

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