Morning swing at Iloilo Golf and Country Club
Iloilo I LOVE! visits the hundred-year old and oldest existing golf course in the Philippines – the Iloilo Golf and Country Club at Santa Barbara.
After visiting Santa Barbara’s town proper, we decided to cross the highway and drive towards the hilly side of the town. It was a journey that was short but very interesting for me. Honestly I’ve never been near any golf course except for this one. So excuse for me my lack of knowledge on playing golf, but at least I can appreciate the heritage, beauty and history of Iloilo Golf and Country Club.
How the golf course came into existence is very interesting. After the US occupied the country, they initiated series of infrastructure projects to enhance economic activity. In Iloilo, that task fell to the hands of the Scottish and British engineers (who at that time still had the franchise to build railways from the Spanish authorities). Missing their national sport, the Scots wanted to build a golf course at Iloilo City to take advantage of the scenic view and their base of operation. But the city is flat and prone to flooding so they decided to look somewhere else.
At the that time, a railway station is being built at Santa Barbara. The engineers, seeing the vast area of uneven land and hills, decided to have their playground at Santa Barbara. The rest was history as Iloilo witnessed the birth of golf in this part of the country.
Today, the Iloilo Golf and Country Club is a shining beacon of the sport in the country. A century after the golf was introduced in the country, the sport is still being enjoyed by Ilonggos and some are even are reaching national attention for their skills. Anybody knows Miguel Sequito? Mr. Sequito’s extraordinary story from being a ball boy in 1913 and caddie to a talented golfer even beating American and British pros in his time.
The golf course celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2007 and what’s surprising is that the hard proof of its age were old golf balls unearthed at hole number 10. The balls bore markings of their date of manufacturing (1899).
The Iloilo Golf and Country had withstood the ravages of war (World War II) and rebellion (HUKBALAHAP). Its survival is not only attributed to its builders but to the people who maintained and worked for the club. The golf course not only witnessed how golf became a widespread favorite for the elite and the common people. It also witnessed strides in social structure in Ilonggo society. In the first few years after the golf course was built, the country club only accepted foreigners such as the Americans, the British and Scots. But as more elite Ilonggos came into power, they were also invited to join the sport. At first it was men, then women followed. At the beginning, the rich has exclusive access, decades after common people entered its fairways.
So if you had time to play golf at the Iloilo Golf and Country Club, remember to appreciate her beauty and history at the same time concentrate on hitting a bogey.
Getting there: The Iloilo Golf and Country Club is accesible through 20-30 minute ride from the city to the Santa Barbara Town Proper. It is also 5 minutes away from the Iloilo International Airport at Cabatuan.
How To Play at Iloilo Golf & Country Club: The club is private, but tourists are also welcome to play. Reservations must be made if you wish to play on the weekends and on holidays.
Facilities: Practice areas are available for you to warm up before your game. Tee houses are located on the fairways, for your convenience, and they also have a modern clubhouse with restaurant.
Tel. No. (63+2) 846-6667
Mobile No. (63+905) 3322013, (63+927) 7187159
Office Hrs. 9AM – 5PM