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My Favorite Golf Courses - Luisita Golf and Country Club

 

When I was starting in the game, Luisita Golf and Country Club was a unicorn among golf courses. We all knew about the club's history and its place in golf in the Philippines. How it's the only golf course in all of Asia designed by the legendary golf course architect Robert Trent Jones and was the first of the truly modern golf courses in the country.

The club was intensely private then. To play there, you had to have a member with you and the club had precious few members then as it does now, so getting a chance to walk its storied fairways remained a dream for most Pinoygolfers.

Things are different now. Luisita is still a private club, but the club now accepts guests as long as you call ahead to make reservations. The best news is that the golf course is now in better shape than ever and has resumed its rightful place at the top of the game in the country.

Compared to the other golf courses of the day, Luisita was revolutionary and heralded the arrival of modern golf course construction in the Philippines. Luista was the first Philippine golf course to make use of modern turf grasses. The fairways are Tifton and the greens original tifdwarf. What is remarkable is that these greens survive to this day in their original state. Tifdwarf does have a tendency to mutate back to its original form but that clearly has not been the case here. Remarkable considering those greens were planted over 50-years ago.

The course isn't overly long at just over seven thousand yards in length from the tips. It demands a complete game from the golfer to score well. The course doesn't favor one shot shape over another; the holes turn both ways, demanding impeccable control of the golf ball to take advantage of the golf course.

The element that golfers will have to deal with is water. There’s water almost everywhere; it’s in play on eleven of the eighteen holes and you’ll have to deal with it on all the par threes. On two of the holes (fourteen and seventeen), there are two water hazards with which to contend. So unless you’re out to challenge yourself, most golfers would do well to play the appropriate set of tees. It will add enjoyment to your round and reduce the number of golf balls you donate to the hazards.

There are so many memorable holes here that it's impossible to choose a favorite. The par 3s are amazing, the second perhaps the most so. The eighth hole is a layup and a wedge if done properly but when the water in the hazard is high, those in the know will skip golf balls across the lake and onto the green.

The closing stretch that is the most memorable. Fourteen is a great hole. The tee shot must cross two bodies of water. The hole doglegs to the left and water remains in play with the approach as well. The green is shallow and difficult to hold. It’s just a great golf hole.

Fifteen is the toughest of the par 4s that doesn't have a water hazard. This sweeping dogleg to the left is a bit shorter but no less difficult. An array of bunkers guard the ideal landing area off the tee. A miss to the right will result in a long shot into a green that slopes away in the back.

The hole that strikes fear into the hearts of most golfers is seventeen. At 214-yards from the tips and just 20-yards shorter from the next set of tees, this is the most difficult of the par 3s. There's nothing but water between the back set of tees and the green. Shorter hitters will be relieved to know that they can lay up to where the forward tees are located and play the hole like a par 4 to minimize their losses.

It's the intangibles that make Luisita Golf and Country Club truly special. The magnificent clubhouse hearkens back to the grand hacienda. The property a time warp that gives you a taste of what it must have been like when the club was truly the playground of the privileged.

That Luisita is now accessible to intrepid golfers is a boon to the game. Golfers worth their salt will have a round here on their bucket list. For many, it will be a round of a lifetime. 



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