Considering Intramuros is a colonial Spanish city in the heart of Manila in The Philippines you could be forgiven for thinking Club Intramuros Golf Course is perhaps over 500 years old. After all it is built within the original moat of the huge fortified walls, which by the way, provide a colossal hazard if you end up needing to hit one around an ancient corner or two.
The truth is a little more recent, although still fairly legendary considering it was built by the US army in 1907 during their 48 year occupation of The Philippines, with the great General Macarthur himself a regular visitor. In 1995 however, it was given a face lift by renowned golf architect Andy Dye.
Club Intramuros Golf Course is a relatively short course with an 18 hole par of just 66, but don’t let that fool you, there are more than enough hazards to keep you interested, from lakes, streams and island greens to those aforementioned colonial walls.
There is a real colonial feel to the place, a kind of oasis of calm away from the hustle and bustle of Manila’s street traffic, with much of the clubhouse and changing rooms built into the old city walls.
The first is a gentle par 3 set down a corridor of swaying palms with the towering walls looking down; a gallery of interested tourists walking along the top of the walls stopping to watch the fate of my ball which fortunately manages to find the green.
As the course winds its way around the walls I climb a few ancient pathways and steps until I find myself leaving the course to cross one of Manila’s typically busy roads, an army of jeepney’s, (one of Manila’s curious public transport vehilcles made from converted US jeeps) are fighting for space with Tuk Tuk’s, bikes and cars. The course moves away from the moat for a few holes, offering a small respite with some wider fairways and generous greens, the skyline of modern Manila providing an impressive backdrop.
Before long though, it’s back across the traffic to the moat for the closing holes, a succession of potentially watery endings and some tight out of bounds along the way.
There are lots of fond memories you’ll take from Club Intramuros Golf Course; not least, the legion of small lady caddies who seemingly carry infinite amounts of things without a moan and still manage to keep score too, and for me, walking in the footsteps of Manila’s colonial past. You can also play flood flit golf at night here, which isn’t a bad call as the sun be achingly hot.
All in all, a highly unusual yet rewarding golfing experience.
All images (c) Andy Mossack