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 returned to Wack Wack Golf Club with Bob McCoy, so this is an update to my earlier review. I recently learned that the club name Wack Wack derives from the squawk of the large black crows, which used to inhabit the land, locally known as “Uwak-Uwak”. The East is one of the premier golf courses in the Philippines and The Philippine Open has been held here as many as 33 times from 1956 to 2014.
The East Course has a vast layout whose challenge lies in elevated, small and often severely sloped greens, water hazards, and lengthy fairways flankered by mature trees. The fairways are nicely cut but they are Carabao grass, natural Philippines grass, which occasionally causes the iron heads to get stuck in the roots of the grass, and give players extra challenges compared to different fairway grass like Bermuda.
The course has a major renovation recently and added some 200 additional yards now to an over 7,200-yard-long course by adding and reposition some of teeing boxes, notably Hole 8, 10 and 12. It has repositioned many of fairways bunkers that used be easily carried, making them come into play. Two water holes 7 &16 have changed to look more natural. The greens are faster with good rolling, and the greenside bunkers are larger & deeper. Overall, the East course has improved a lot and has become much tougher. To read more about the East Course at Wack Wack GC, click here to visit my website.
The Wack Wack club was created by American Bill Shaw in 1930. The East course was designed by American James Black in 1931. Americans Ron Kirby and partner Denis Griffiths did some renovation work in 1980. Going through normal channels, access to Wack Wack is impossible. Thankfully Kimi Hoshiyama’s club in Hong Kong had reciprocity with Wack Wack, so he was able to open the door for a tee time that fit my schedule.
At 11:30 a.m. I am teeing off with Kimi and his friend, Akira Matsukawa… Wack Wack is an unusual design with only one par 3 and one par 5 on each nine. The par is 72 at 7,222 yards, but the course plays really long because of soggy “cow” grass (Axonpus compressus) in the fairways and rough. It is a somewhat hilly course so the walking in the heat and humidity is strenuous.
The club is surrounded by tall office buildings and apartments. On the East Course are tall, mature trees framing each hole with the trees squeezing some of the shorter holes. There are only 49 bunkers, but there is some type of water on almost every hole – ditches, ponds, and a pretty lake. Most of the greens are small to medium in size except #18 which is mammoth at 50 yards deep. Many of the greens are elevated with upturned saucer-like shapes, none more so than the pictured #8 which looks like a small volcano from the tee. Your shot must hit the center of this small green or the ball will shed off the sloping green into deep collection areas.
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.
Wack Wack Golf & Country Club is an old flat course with each hole separated by trees. There are 2 courses, East and West. This East Course is a championship course while the recently built West course is a resort course. The East course staged the 1977 World Cup. A feature of the course is that each green is elevated and slopes from the back to the front and the landscaping of the greens is excellent. You might feel that the course is a little shorter than its 7000 yards par 72 because there are only two par 3s and seven par 4s less than 400 yards.
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.