A pair of golfing legends – Arnold Palmer and Gary Player – designed the two 18-hole championship courses within The Orchard Golf and Country Club on the edge of Metro Manila in the affluent municipality of Dasmariñas.
Set in a former mango orchard on an extensive estate, the golf facility here is only one of a wide selection of leisure and sporting amenities (including cinema, swimming pool, tennis and badminton courts) that are available to members.
Both courses are top class parkland affairs but the Palmer layout just has the edge over its Player sibling – unlike, in regard to the illustrious playing careers of the two men, when the Black Knight’s nine majors hold sway over Arnie’s seven!
A round on the Palmer starts gently with a par five sandwiched between two straightforward par fours, followed shortly after by a couple of delightful short holes at 5 and 7, where water, sand and mango trees threaten a four or more on the scorecard for the wayward.
The back nine begins with a testing, uphill par four hole (with water protecting the front of the green) and it ends with a strong, right doglegged par five at the 18th where more than a dozen fairway and greenside bunkers prevent an easy conclusion to the round.
The calibre of the Palmer course is such that it hosted the fifth Johnnie Walker Classic in 1995 when Fred Couples became the first American to win the event with an aggregate score of 277, eleven under par.
A typical Arnold Palmer designed course, there is plenty of risk-reward here. You will be tempted to reach for your driver on the short par 4s but be careful as many a round has been ruined by such strategy. The wind plays a major factor here. Gale force gusts are not uncommon, especially during the afternoon.
I have always enjoyed the layout. It isn't overly punishing and always eggs you to go for the hero shot, but upon closer inspection require a lot of course management to score consistently well. I would rate it higher if not for the crowds and generally slow play.
The par 3 199-yard 7th is challenging over a lake. The green is surrounded by water, bunkers and mango trees. The green slopes down to the back bunkers, leaving a demanding shot downhill toward the pond for those who hit long. The par 4 404-yard 8th consists of a dogleg to the left. The mango trees are positioned at the left corner, so you need to hit to the right half of the fairway in order to have a clear angle to the green on the second shot. The green is guarded by water in front and bunkers on both sides and at the back. The par 5 537-yard 18th is a very challenging, a dogleg to the right. There is a big bunker in the middle of the fairway. When you hit to the left of the bunker, the fairway is wider and it is a safe route but the remaining distance to the green is far. To make a short cut, you need to hit to the right side of the fairway but it is narrower with the lake bordering on the right, so you need to hit a very accurate drive. The second and third shots become moderately uphill with well-positioned fairway bunkers. The double-tiered green is further raised and you should hit the green long rather than short because the bunker in front is very deep. To read more about Palmer Course at The Orchard Golf & Country Club, click here to visit my website.