If you are travelling to the Philippines to play golf, then you need to head for the Royal Northwoods Golf & Country Club.
Designed by Australian golfer and course architect Graham Marsh, construction began in 1999 and was completed in 2001. Although initially only 9 holes were completed within the first year, the full 18 took a little longer than planned to open.
Predominantly a private members course Royal Northwoods is still open to visitors and getting a tee time is relatively easy, especially with the use of a booking agent such as GolfSavers.
The practice facilities are what golfers come to expect from a private members club, large and well equipped with a driving range and various greens for the practice of the most important area of the game.
A beautiful clubhouse, which offers both the fundamental services that golfers require and the more luxurious services of an on-course hotel merge to create the perfect resort location.
Royal Northwoods can be found almost 2 hours from Manilla, and although a little way from the city, it is more than worth the drive.
At 6776 yards, the course is not particularly long, but the intelligent design by Marsh has created a course that is interesting and challenging to play.
As mentioned the course is not the longest, but deep bunkers, that seem to be perfectly placed to cause the most difficult of problems for even the most gifted golfer.
I have to mention the quality of the greens, which are quite simply superb. Maintainence in general is second to none, and the attention to detail is apparent at every turn.
The challenge that the course possesses is immediately obvious, the hardest hole on the course is the 2nd. A par four that requires a pin-point accurate drive that is also long. Too far left and you will find a watery grave, not far enough left and your approach to the green will be blocked out by the enormous bamboos that protect the hole.
A challenger for the signature hole is the 14th, a par four that is split by the stream that runs the length of the hole, creating the most beautiful of holes, obviously challenging bamboo comes into play again as it borders the stream.
Considered the signature hole is the last. A short, up-hill par four that requires both guile and nerve. A dogleg, protected by a bunker and a resident banana tree is the challenge for the tee shot and the approach to the small double tiered green requires good club selection.
Royal Northwoods is a stunning layout and the potential difficulties of getting a tee are no ore than a hindrance.