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Caliraya Springs Golf Club - The Marsh Course

I first played Caliraya Springs Golf Club almost 18-years ago with my childhood friend, the late Dr. Vince Gomez. Only the Palmer course had been completed then, with the second course, a Graham Marsh design, put on hold indefinitely due to the uncertainties of the golf clubshare maket at that time.

After not having visited Caliraya Springs for 8-years, I finally got a chance to return during the '23 Christmas holidays. So much had changed. The Marsh course had been completed but I also wanted to get reacquainted with the Palmer course, which has some of the most picturesque golf holes in the country.

In my absence, Megaworld Corp. had bought into Caliraya Springs pumping in much needed capital to complete the unfinished subdivisions and more importantly to my mind, finish the long-delayed Marsh Course. 

The golf clubhouse has been significantly renovated. All the facilities have been refurbished and contribute to a more pleasing experience. The views on the other hand remain the same, and that's a good thing because it's beautiful here. 

Our first round was on the Palmer Course. I was curious to see how the course had done in the eight years that I was away. The weather was typical for Caliraya this time of the year. Showers and thunderstorms conspired to muddy the fairways and the ever-present wind made the golf course play much longer than we had bargained for.

But the Palmer is still a wonderful golf course. The greens have improved significantly from my last visit and were deceptively quick, in spite of the unwanted moisture that the rains brought. The carabao grass fairways fared less well and we lost a few golf balls in muddy sections of the fairways. But the closing stretch of the front nine is still one of my favorites in Philippine golf. 

This visit was less about the Palmer Course and more about the newly minted Graham Marsh design on the other side of the property. Built on rolling terrain that offers some magnificent views of Mount Banahaw, the Marsh Course offers a counterpoint to its sister course. Its fairways are extremely generous. If you manage to hit one OB, you've hit a truly hideous swing. Even with the wind howling as it was during our visit, I never came close to the perimeter fence. 

At 6,690-yards from the championship tees, it's a very approachable layout, but it really didn't seem so with soggy fairways and the howling wind that came to its defense during our rounds. If I hadn't looked at the scorecard, I would have thought that the course was closer to 7,000-yards that it is. 

There are far less bunkers scattered around the course than other Graham Marsh courses that I've had the pleasure to play. Many are hidden from view off the tee, so be sure to mind your caddy's advice when you visit.

The course is still an infant compared to the Palmer. There are few trees on the course and the trees that are there are about the size of my inconsiderable wrists. In spite of that, the greens are remarkably good. The roll very well and are quicker than they have a right to be. There doesn't seem to be a predominant break but then a couple of rounds on them while fighting rolling thunderstorms doesn't make for a good opportunity to learn the golf course either. 

All in all, we were suitably impressed with the Marsh Course at Caliraya Springs GC. So much so that we chose to play a second round on it in spite of the atrocious conditions. If that's not a glowing review, I don't know what is.

The only downside to all this golf goodness is the drive to get to the club. It's not a horrendous distance from the city but the route there takes you through some of the busiest streets of Laguna, close to the province's border with Quezon. The pro tip is to book a couple of nights at the club's hotel, then travel in the evening after the worst of the traffic has subsided. That way, you can wake up to the marvelous view from the clubhouse veranda well rested for your round. The club has stay and play packages available so be sure to call ahead to make the arrangements.

Images of the clubhouse and the 6th green of the Palmer Course by Henry Yutuc