Philippine Airlines has selected Cagayan de Oro and Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon as the twin venues for the Diamond Anniversary Edition of the Philippine Airlines Interclub golf team championships to be held on February 19-March 4, 2024.
Hosting the tournament are Northern Mindanao’s two premier golf course – Pueblo de Oro Golf & Country Club, situated on a 350-meter plateau in the plush Uptown Cagayan de Oro, and Del Monte Golf and Country Club, set within the famous Del Monte pineapple plantation in nearby Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.
Acknowledged as the longest-running and biggest amateur team golf championship in the Philippines, the Philippine Airlines Interclub Golf Tournament (also known as the PAL Interclub) has previously been hosted four times in the past (2000, 2004, 2007 and 2011) by the two famous golf courses, a choice hailed by some of the country’s leading golf clubs.
Philippine Airlines Interclub
Defending Champion Manila Southwoods, Cebu Country Club, and defending seniors’ champion Luisita, were among the previous champions who expressed their delight over the choice of the venue. During the 64th PAL Interclub held here in 2011, local favorite Del Monte garnered the championship.
It was participated by a record 167 teams: 89 in the seniors division including eight new entries from overseas :Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu, Vancouver, Guam, Saipan and Tokyo; and a further 78 teams in the regular Interclub event that included 31 international contenders including newcomers from Nevada, Los Angeles, Dubai, Tokyo and Nagoya; and reinstated teams from Sydney, San Francisco and Washington, D.C..
Host cities have welcomed the PAL Interclub for the huge boost to local tourism it brings as thousands of golfers and their families, friends, and media from around the country and overseas converge and enjoy local destinations, bringing welcome revenues to hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, resorts, transportation services, tour agents, to mention a few.
This was recently acknowledged by no less than Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco during the inaugural golf tourism summit held recently at Grand Hyatt Manila as the Department of Tourism (DOT) positions the Philippines as a global hub for sports tourism, including golf.
“Today marks the Philippines’ long overdue foray into the multi-billion golf tourism industry that will no doubt have an enormous impact on the Philippine economy. And it’s about time that the government and the private sector come together to converge and to collaborate,” Frasco noted.
The Philippines has over 100 golf courses spread across Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, with Santa Barbara Golf Course in Iloilo Province deemed as the oldest, which was built in 1907, thus, making the country a home to one of the oldest golf courses in Asia.
“Golf tourism represents a promising frontier for the Philippines and this summit highlights our proactive approach in understanding, nurturing, listening to the golf tourism industry and developing this niche as part of our tourism industry portfolio,” Secretary Frasco said.
The host courses
The Del Monte Golf Course, operated by Del Monte Philippines, Inc., is located within the vast Del Monte Plantation in the highlands of Bukidnon. It is composed of 18 holes set on an undulating land of well-kept verdant roughs and fairways.
Located approximately 600 meters above sea level, the weather is perpetually moderate to cool. Features of the golf course include challenging fairways lined with trees on both sides, sand traps and man-made lakes which call for accurate drives. Large and tricky greens likewise provide a good bite to green shots. The course calls for very accurate shots.
The par 3 12th often dubbed as the Waterloo Hole needs a carry of 210 yards over water. The 16th, the Warne’s Hole, was aptly named when one of Del Monte’s executives Thomas Warne sent 36 balls into the lake in 1938.
A warm-up at the scenic countryside driving range sets the golfer ready for a sloping front nine. The relatively flatter back nine around the 5-hectare Cawayanon lake should keep one challenged until he finally gets through the 18th for a glass of cold pineapple juice drink and the juicy Del Monte steak at the Clubhouse.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, Pueblo Golf is the first world-class, all-weather championship golf course in Cagayan de Oro. Wide fairways fan out from the clubhouse, weaving their way along broad ridges lined by deep ravines. It is an all-weather, 18-hole golf course. The two nines are divided by a deep ravine which adds challenge and beauty.
Watch out for strategically placed yawning bunkers and the love grass. The course is a par 72, and is 6,974 yards from the championship tees. Soft spikes required.
The Del Monte team whoops it up at the Pueblo de Oro Golf Clubhouse after bagging the 64th PAL Interclub championship in 2011.
MEMBERS of the Manila Southwoods team that won the 74th Philippine Airlines Men’s Interclub golf team championships in Cebu. From left: Gabriel Manotoc, Ryan Monsalve, Lanz Uy, Masaichi Otake, Santino Laurel, Coby Rolida, Josh Jorge, team captain Thirdy Escano, Southwoods golf director Jerome Delariarte, Kristoffer Arevalo and Shinichi Suzuki.(Photo by Alan Tangcawan via PAL Interclub PR)
The complex layout will challenge players of all skill levels. The 4th and 13th Holes are Pueblo’s signature holes, featuring daunting natural ravines. Pueblo Golf is ranked one of the Top Five courses in the country by Golfing Philippines, the only course to garner such ranking in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Being an all-weather golf course, it is playable the whole year round. It is also environmentally sound, featuring five inter-connected lakes from which recycled water is drawn to water the course – an effective means to conserve water.
Pueblo Golf has played host to a number of major tournaments such as the PAL Interclub, the Rotary International Foundation golf tournament, the Southern Ladies Club, and many others.
“It has been a long wait that we would be given the opportunity again to showcase our golf course, which was recognized as one of Inquirer Golf’s Top 25 golf courses in the Philippines for 2022, and of course, the host city – Cagayan de Oro, the warmth and hospitality of its people,” said Chrysler B. Acebu, Pueblo Golf Vice-Chairman. “When the confirmation came last September 14, we were overwhelmed with delight that finally, the PAL Interclub which is known as the country’s largest and most prominent golf team competition will have its “homecoming” next year.”
Pueblo de Oro and Del Monte golf clubs are now deep in preparations for the seminal event
“The Club is still in the process of finalizing the preparations in coordination with the PAL committee and Pueblo Golf as our co-host for the tournament,” said Armin S. Narciso, Del Monte Golf President. “Team selection to represent Del Monte Golf Club is also part of the preparations.”
“We are now putting the greens and fairways in tournament shape,” said Roberto Wapaño, Del Monte Golf Chairman. “A team from PAL was here earlier last week to do an ocular inspection and found everything to their satisfaction. We are currently doing classifications for our senior and regular teams. As one of the hosts, we are entitled to field two teams and we want to put on a strong showing since it is our home course.”
During the last time it hosted the event in February 2011 for the 64th PAL Interclub, the Del Monte team won the championship division by 18 points over Cebu Country Club and Canlubang, the second time it won after ruling the 2004 staging.
With Noel Langamin’s five birdies accounting for 37 points, Del Monte unseated five-time champion Canlubang and zipped past Cebu Country Club in the final round with 141 points for a four day total of 535. Leonardo Lofranco and Vince Lusterio chipped in 36 and 35 points, respectively, with reigning national champion Clyde Mondilla rounding out Del Monte’s scoring with 33.
Meantime, participants and their families who wish to enjoy the sights and delights of Manolo Fortich can now book their accommodations with the new and existing hotels in the vicinity such as the MF Suites, Jejem’s Traveller’s Inn, and Golfitel (Dream Residences), according to Jixon Cloyd Abanes, Municipal Tourism Officer.
“Pueblo Golf is committed to bringing to the participants world-class golfing experience. And to put our money where our mouth is, we have allocated about P12-million for the major upgrading of our golf course and club facilities such as replacement of bunker sand with silica sand, renovation of locker rooms, tee houses and the driving range,” Acebu noted.
“Just recently, the club beefed up its maintenance equipment fleet which would allow us to achieve healthy turf conditions for our greens and fairways. I’m glad that everyone in the club including our Golf Council headed Mr Allan Sagrado, share the same enthusiasm and dedication to make our club a regular golfing destination. All told, we should be ready to take on hosting big tournaments such as the PAL Interclub,” he added.
Similarly, the Cagayan de Oro Hotel and Restaurant Association (COHARA) are already preparing for the much anticipated event.
“We already had a zoom meeting with PAL and sent them our hotel members accommodation rates last month,” said Nollie Arguelles, COHARA Executive Officer. “As per PAL, golf players will directly be booking with their preferred hotels and our hotels do have bookings already.”
Ready? Set? Fore!