Haven players experience golf Philippine style

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After months of planning and meetings to finalize their golf trip, a group of IPGC golfers headed out to Angeles City, Philippines to avoid the annual Songkran festival in Pattaya.  The first glitch in the trip occurred when vehicles arrived at the airport only to find that no parking spots were available.  A local police officer directed the vehicles to a temporary parking area.  

The 3½ hour flight arrived on time in Manila.  Local transportation was awaiting and we soon found out what the meaning of “bumper-to-bumper traffic” as it took 2½ hours to traverse the city and once the highway was reached another hour to Angeles City.

IPGC golfers in the Philippines.IPGC golfers in the Philippines.

The golfers reached their home for the next 6 nights at the Kokomos Hotel & Restaurant located in the heart of Angeles on Fields Avenue.  This 10 room hotel is also home to the only 24/7 bar in town.  This proved to be a nuisance for 2 golfers with rooms directly over the dance floor and the rhythmic beat of music and the constant ringing of bells for drinks for the dancers.  A good night of rest would be enjoyed by all as tee times were not until 1 p.m. the following afternoon.  A few members checked out the local entertainment establishments and utilized the free refreshment coupons to 3 bars.

Upon arrival at the Mimosa Golf Course the group learned that the top course was closed for maintenance and the old USAF military course was the only one available.  They were also introduced to the “passports” where you pay for your golf after your round and a 350 peso fee was assessed for drinks/food for each golfer.  Caddie fees were not paid to the course but directly to the caddy at the end of your round.

The group had to play off the white tees at the short length of 5,433 yards.  Golfers quickly realized that positional golf would be the key to a good round.  When our first group reached the 15th hole the sky opened up and it began to rain heavily and they decided to forgo the final 2 holes.  As the last group had some good scores, they continued to play through the rain and finished.

Wednesday was a day of rest and a foursome played Royal Garden CC with numerous right and left doglegs.  Two people decided to play tourist for the day and jumped into motorbike taxis and asked to see the sights of Angeles.  The driver went up both sides of Rizal Avenue and 10 minutes later advised they had seen all that there was to see.

The 2nd group day of golf was held at FA Korea Country Club, which offers 36 holes including one in the shape of Jeju Island.  A dilemma faced the golfers as a new twist was added to the round which is not usually seen in Pattaya called “internal out of bounds” on almost every hole.  Golfers with a slice soon felt the pain of opening their club face too much.

The scenic Clark Sun Valley Golf Course overlooking Angeles City.The scenic Clark Sun Valley Golf Course overlooking Angeles City.

The final day of golf was arranged for the public course at Clark Sun Valley, which was the best course of the trip and situated at 900 feet in the hills overlooking Angeles.  This course has uphill and downhill sloping fairways, ravines, and thick bushes on the sides.  The group played off the blue tees which measured 6,500 yards.  The group consensus was that the required golf carts were the best they had ever seen as they seated 4, had sliding front windows, and plastic covering all around the cart.

Positional shots were once again a requirement as many hazards faced the golfers and some commented that the grass was so thick on the fairways that it felt like you were walking on a sponge.  The course also had armed security patrolling the area.  Another first for most of the golfers was an 18th green with 2 pin placements, one of which had to be declared prior to hitting your approach shot to the green.

After a tough competition the top 2-day total went to Vincent Gras with 73 points, Kevin Blake was second with 69, and Markku Tynell third on 66.

A general observation was that the caddies on all courses rarely repaired ball marks or raked bunkers (golf carts did not have rakes).   Carts could be shared on all courses.