On the 24th of last month, the lowest temperature in Korea fell below freezing. I found Clark in the Philippines, where the daytime temperature exceeds 30 degrees. The place I visited to feel the charm of ‘summer golf’ in midwinter is Mimosa Plus CC. With 36 holes, it is famous for being the only golf course in the Philippines where Tiger Woods, the ‘golf emperor’, has played rounds.
Woods held the ’97 Tiger Woods Challenge here in January 1998, the year after the course opened. After the game, Woods raised his thumbs up, praising the condition of his golf course. This scene is still the representative pride of Mimosa Plus CC, even after 20 years.
The golf course is divided into a mountain view course that stimulates the spirit of challenge and an acacia course with a secluded and peaceful atmosphere. Woods played on the Mountain View course with colorful holes.
The first hole of the Mountain View course starts with a par 5 (478m from white tee). There are thick trees on both sides, so you can’t ‘go right’ once you enter the teeing ground. A small creek flows along the left edge of the course and turns around 30m in front of the tee box, but it’s not enough to bother you. Even if the slice is large to the right, the possibility of OB is low. Being able to relieve OB worries is a small pleasure of golf travel in Southeast Asia. Because the field is so wide, it is rare to lose the ball. ‘One-ball play’, in which players use the same ball after playing several holes, is a very satisfying thing for weekend golfers.
It’s just that the driver shot ‘doesn’t die’, but it’s not easy to capture the 1st hole of Handcap 3. From the first hole, it gives you a good scare. It is difficult to approach as there are bunkers on both sides surrounding the hillside green. According to records, 22-year-old Woods, who was holding the title of ‘Player of the Year’ on the PGA Tour, also recorded a bogey. Woods’ overall performance on the Mountain View course was 1-under 71.
The signature hole of Mimosa CC is the 16th hole (par 3). The hole cup is on the other side of the lake and there is even a bunker in between. In the end, you have to drop the ball backwards, but it’s not simple because you have to putter uphill. When you grab an iron and step into the plate, the Filipino caddy gives a warning in Korean. “Be careful fondant.”
The condition of the golf course is hard to find fault with, as it was selected as the best golf course in the Philippines in 2022 by the World Golf Awards, a world-renowned country club evaluation company. For the first time in the Philippines, the cart is equipped with a monitor that automatically indicates the remaining distance to the hole cup using a GPS system. It didn’t seem like a bad thing to say that locals also had trouble booking.
Mimosa CC also presented a special gift to golf customers from Korea. After two years of remodeling, the Acacia course, which is about to officially open, was released in advance. It was a special treat to score points for Korean winter golfers. If the Mountain View course used hills to induce a sense of excitement, the Acacia course is located on relatively flat ground, giving a sense of stability. If you walk through the field, you can understand why it was named Acacia. Beautiful acacia trees that are well over 100 years old serve as guideposts throughout the course. In Mimosa CC, not only an acacia tree that is around 20m tall, but also 5,000 trees of various colors create a picturesque landscape.
It is not only Mimosa CC that has made Clark a representative winter golf destination for Koreans. There are many attractive golf courses such as Sun Valley CC and FA Korea CC. Since these golf courses serve as the pillars of Clark’s economy, government agencies are also paying special attention to them. This is why a campaign is being held to help Korean golfers entering Clark Airport go through the procedures smoothly. 안전놀이터
Clark, located about 80 km northwest of Manila, the capital of the Philippines, was originally the site of a US military base. After the US troops left, the Philippine government designated 320 km2 of land, more than four times the size of the new Bundang city, as a “Freeport and Special Economic Zone.” The Clark Development Corporation under the direct control of the President is creating a business hub under the name of ‘New Clark City Project’.
For that reason, it’s a bit of a waste to just play golf in Clark. Large casinos have opened one after another, and water parks are also operating. Clark Airport Terminal 2, which can serve 8 million passengers a year, also recently opened. It contains the will to attract more foreigners. Clark’s new airport was served by low-cost carriers (LCCs) such as Jeju Air and Jin Air Fly Gangwon. Philippine Airlines is still the only airline that has business seats. Full service carrier (FSC) provides in-flight meals. Since it is a Philippine national airline, we were assigned a golden schedule, departing from Incheon early in the morning and arriving at noon. Recently, it operates a route between Busan and Clark four times a week and is working hard to transport Korean tourists.
In fact, even before the corona pandemic, there were cases in which people who enjoyed golf in Clark were eye-popping. Since it was a US military base, there is an entertainment district slightly out of Clark. However, the local tourism industry explained that as the authorities worked hard to separate Clark and the surrounding area, the same problems as before have decreased. In fact, it is difficult to encounter the dizzy atmosphere unique to the Philippine city center unless you leave Clark. Rather, the comfort of a new city comes closer. However, the downside is that it does not properly secure manpower in accommodation facilities, etc., causing some disruptions to the service.