Situated on a bluff, some 500 feet above the Philippine city of Cebu, Alta Vista Golf & Country Club forms the heart of a residential and leisure development.
Gary Player’s Black Knight Design firm created the 6,237-yard course, which opened in 1994. Essentially a parkland course in an upland setting, it has the classic hallmark of a site where the architect has had limited space to work with: the holes are relatively narrow.
Add in the abundant foliage flanking most of the par 4s and 5s, and you have a design that’s been called everything from “challenging” to “heartless.” The latter is harsh on the designer, who has applied a light touch with bunkers and water hazards and instead relied on the astonishing roller-coaster terrain to defend the par of 72.
With barely a flat lie out there, the narrowness is off-set by the course’s shortness. With no need to boom away off the tees, golfers can focus on accuracy and course management, not to mention the breathtaking views that Alta Vista (‘High View’) offers over the surrounding city and the Cebu Strait beyond.
There’s no breaking yourself in slowly, however. Your opening tee shot must clear a 150-yard ravine, and there’s a pond to clear when you drive at the 4th. On the flip side, there’s a bunch of good scoring opportunities from 11 through 15, when three par 4s averaging 336 yards are interspersed with par 3s of 145 and 157 yards. The par-4 12th and par-3 13th are heavily bunkered, though, so proceed carefully.
The handsome clubhouse is designed along Spanish colonial lines, and has a golfers’ lounge and bar, a pro shop, café, and restaurant.