The Nicklaus Design Company was very productive in the Philippines during the 1990s, setting up courses at Manila Southwoods, Forest Hills, Camp John Hay, Alabang and here at Sherwood Hills.
It’s a rugged layout with a front nine that many consider to be more challenging than the inward half. Only two of the ten par fours on the scorecard are less than 400 yards in length from the back markers so short hitters are advised to choose their tee positions carefully.
Jack used ornamental native grasses like Bahia and Cogan outside the playing areas and Tifway 419 to carpet the course (TifDwarf for the greens) and this sensible choice of underfoot covering provides Sherwood Hills with firm and fast fairways and greens.
The cogon grass that lines the holes is dense so it’s best to avoid spraying shots wildly and natural ravines that come into play also guarantee a lost ball within their thick vegetation. Large Saman trees – also known as Rain or Monkey Pod trees – give definition to many of the fairways and water hazards around the turn are a very pleasant aesthetic attraction.
Hole 9 plays as the toughest on the course, requiring a tee shot over water and an approach over a wide stream in front of the green. Don’t let the stroke index of 18 on the par four 10th fool you as it tapers to a very narrow green protected by a pond on one side and deep sand on the other.The 192-yard 16th is regarded as the signature hole at Sherwood Hills and this par three plays slightly uphill to a green that falls away on the left into a nest of deep bunkers.
Sherwood is a semi-private club a couple of hours away from Manila. The layout is typical Nicklaus sprinkled with a few risk reward holes and very good bunkering. Pace can get slow especially during the weekends. This is the poor man's Manila Southwoods, despite arguably having a better layout. Lies can get a bit tight especially during the dry season so bring your low bounce wedges. I personally enjoyed this track very much and would highly recommend it.
Just beside Sherwood is Eagle Ridge Golf Club with 4 semi-private courses. Staying in a nearby hotel and playing another round in the morning before heading back is also a good alternative.