What is your favorite golf course in the Philippines?
It is the question that I’m asked the most. There is no cut and dry answer to the question. Not to evade the question; but it speaks to the quality and the diversity of the golf courses in the country. There are reasons beyond what satisfies the intellect and stimulates the senses. The intangibles, if you will.
Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club is the crown jewel of golf in Batangas today. The club is nestled at the feet of the mountain range for which it is named. At 1,025-feet above sea level the weather is appreciably cooler than lower locales and provides the ideal climate for golf.
The course was laid out by Bob Moore of the JMP Design Group who designed an almost surreal 27-hole layout. The golf course is home to three distinct nines; the Lobo, Malipunyo and Makulot courses, named after peaks of the Malarayat range. In a bit of serendipity, the opening hole on each course faces the peak after which it is named.
It is beautiful here. Flat out gorgeous. Of the country’s inland golf courses, there are few that match the manicured glory of Malarayat. Everything is perfect, just as it should be. The mountains provide a serene backdrop to the magnificent property.
The golf is as good as the golf course is beautiful.
The course is not overly long; a hair over 7,000-yards from the tips, regardless of which combination you play. Each of the 27-holes is unlike any of the others. All are beautiful, but some transcend the others and are some of the most beautiful holes of golf anywhere in the country.
The finishing holes on each nine are standouts, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be the seventh hole on the Makulot Course. It was once named one of the 100 Most Beautiful Golf Holes outside of the United States by Golf Magazine. It’s a reachable par five, if you have the game for it and the shot into the green is magnificent; the green is nestled beside a lake, framed by acacia trees. It is one of the most beautiful shots you’ll face anywhere in the country.
If you don’t have the long game to drive the shorter par fours and reach the fives in two, you need not despair. Malarayat rewards a tactical mind with decent control of the golf ball. There are generous areas from which you can approach the green from a reasonable distance.
The greens set Malarayat apart. The undulations on them need to be seen. Finding the correct quadrant of each green is of the utmost importance. The greens are always in amazing condition, which is a good thing given how difficult they are to putt.
That could be said about the golf course as a whole; the thing is in fabulous condition. I’ve been playing Malarayat for the better part of fifteen years now, and it is always in condition that would make most other golf clubs green with envy.
Beyond the golf and the abject beauty of the property, it’s the way everything comes together to make you feel, that I treasure the most here. The ultimate is to book a couple of nights in the hotel so you can savor each of the nines.
Malarayat transports you to a milieu of its own; one of beauty, grace and serenity with some pretty good golf in the bargain. That’s why it ranks high on my list of favorite golf courses.