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 Hills Golf Club is a strategic course that utilizes valleys, bunkers, and ponds, all on nearly flat terrain. Each hole is quite characteristic, so it is very fun to play. Because it is links-style with very little tall trees, wind passes easily though the course, making it very challenging, if players take into account the influence of the wind, the distance of over 7,200 yards, and a lot of well-placed bunkers. The fairways are wide throughout the course. However, the wider the fairways are laid out, the wider the hazards and bunkers are laid just beside it. Sherwood Hills’ greens are generally small and surrounded by the good use of sand.
The par 4 462-yard 9th is a signature hole that is an almost straight hole with both the tee and second shots requiring an over-the-lake crossing. The tee shot needs distance on this long par 4. The second shot is demanding with a greater challenge due to the diagonally penetrating pond in front of the green. The par 5 566-yard 5th is a double dogleg that first slightly bends to the right and then bends to the left. Off the tee, players will need a carry of 250 yards if they want to overcome the bunker on the right side of the fairway inclining to the left. A valley running along the left side of fairway and the green will come into play on the second and third shots. Players should avoid the deep bunkers to the left side of the green sloping from back to front. The par 3 192-yard 16th is another signature hole over a valley. The undulating green is guarded by two bunkers in a row in its front.
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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.