An interesting story surrounds the formation of the Wack Wack Golf & Country Club by an American named William J Shaw back in 1930. Bill Shaw – an official at Manila Golf Club where the Philippines Open had been held since its inauguration in 1913 – was appalled when Larry Montes, the first Filipino winner of the competition in 1929, was asked to leave the clubhouse during the awards presentation because, as a caddy at a local club, he was prohibited from entering the clubhouse in the first place.
Disgusted at this attitude towards a local golfer – who also happened to be the first professional to win the event in its 17th year – Shaw left the club to establish one that would be free from any discrimination. And so, the Wack Wack was inaugurated the following year.
Incidentally, Montes would demonstrate the full extent of his golfing prowess by winning half of the next twenty national Open competitions that were held between 1932 and 1954.
The course first came to international prominence in 1962 when one of the earliest “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” series of challenge matches was played here between Dave Ragan and Celestino Tugot.
The East is the main course at Wack Wack and its par three 8th, with its upturned bowl-shaped green, is the signature hole, but the long one-shot 16th has been known to spoil the card of many a golfer with a good score up to that point in the round. The newer, shorter West layout attracts juniors and seniors away from the big course for a more leisurely round.
The annual World Cup of Golf was held on the East course in 1977 and the home pairing of Rudy Labares and Ben Arda performed superbly well, beaten into second place by the Spanish team of Seve Ballesteros and Manuel Pinero – such was the strength of Iberian golf at the time, Spain had won the previous year in Palm Springs with Seve and Manuel Pinero lifting the trophy.
I have played the East Course more times than I can remember. It is a very challenging track, tree-lined with several long par 4s and only two par 5s. At over 7200 yards with a course rating of 75.2 from the tips, shooting your handicap is a gift from the golfing gods.
It has gone through a couple of minor renovations, but still remains true to its roots as an old school Philippine course. The grass used in the fairways is that of a native broad-leafed variety, much different from what we see in America and Europe. The grain is a big factor here, and not only on the greens but also the fairways.
Greens are elevated, upturned saucer-like and relatively small, but hold shots from the fairway well. Miss them though and you are looking at a 30-40 yard uphill pitch. The course plays pretty straightforward and there are almost no blind shots. Terrain is gently rolling, with mature landscaping and trees.
It isn't the prettiest of tracks, but will be sure to reward good shots and punish bad ones. Play here if you want a fair test of your golf game.
An Excellent course in my humble opinion and a must play (member sponsored) in the Philippines.
The par 3 168-yard 8th is a signature hole with an elevated green more than 5 meters high. The green is narrow & deep and slants from the back to the front, so putting is demanding, too. If your shot doesn’t bite, it will be likely to roll down to the one of 6 bunkers guarding the green. Needless to say, an accurate shot is required on this hole. The par 5 515-yard 13th is a straight hole reachable in 2 shots. Seve Ballesteros made eagles for 2 days in succession at the World Cup in 1977 after he successfully reached the green on the second shot with a 2 Iron. The second shot is downhill, which in fact makes the actual distance of this hole about 20 yards shorter. This is a relatively short par 5 but the front side of the green is guarded by water, which enhances the difficulty. If you decide to lay up in front of the pond, the third shot needs to be hit from a downhill lie. The green is narrow in depth and guarded by bunkers on both sides. To read more about the East Course at Wack Wack Golf & Country Club, click here to visit my website.