Constructed by Fil-Estate Golf and Development Incorporated, the leading golf development company in the Philippines, the 36-hole complex at Manila Southwoods was the first Nicklaus Design golf project to open in the country back in the early 1990s.
The Masters and Legends layouts occupy a large 350-acre parkland site to the south of Metro Manila and this fully certified audubon cooperative sanctuary – the first to be designated as such in the Asia Pacific region – supports more than a hundred different bird species.
Inaugurated with a challenge match between Tom Kite and John Daly in October 1992, The Legends layout is rated slightly easier than its sibling but it’s still a tough test when played from the championship tees. Daniel Olsson of Sweden still holds the course record of 64, scored during the 1996 edition of the Eisenhower Trophy world amateur team championship for men.
A tough stretch of holes midway through the front nine on the Legends can make or break a round. Holes 4 and 5 are testing par fours (the former doglegging to the right, the latter veering in the opposite direction) and a brute of a long, narrow par five that measures in excess of 600 yards follows them.The signature hole is another difficult par five at the 17th where the tight fairway doglegs right past a trademark Nicklaus sandy waste area towards a distant green that’s protected by water on one flank and sand on the other – smart golfers will play this as the three shotter it was designed to be.
It is the easier and shorter course in Southwoods. It has wider fairways and better scenery than the Masters course. Greens are tricky and fast, but will still hold good approach shots. Not too many trees around so it can get a bit gusty at times. Course conditions are generally good, but the clubhouse facilities, although well kept, are already looking dated. It is a private club so you will need to be with a member.