GOLF as a sport is considered one of the most traditional. But it is unique in the sense that it is relaxing yet challenging. The sport’s technicalities exact the player’s patience, as making the least stroke on every hole takes a long, tedious process of fine-tuning one’s game. Nonetheless, many are lured to this sport, considered by players as a timeless sport of patience, focus, and elegance.
Commonly played by people who want to take a break from their suffocating, rigid, mind-boggling jobs—and often, by those who love nature, too—golf is often considered an outlet to let one’s steam off, a stress-buster.
Playing golf is entirely a challenge, necessitating unique techniques. But what does it really take to win or finish an entire game, given that the venue itself has its own characteristics, with the terrain making it hard for a non-pro to even make a score-at-par. Perhaps, that’s the magic of this sport, which has, for so long, gained following in the Philippines.
The landscape matters
In an interview, Chess Shalom Abugan, South Forbes Golf Club superintendent, told The Manila Times that many golf players are attracted to playing golf not only for the love of playing, but more because of the design of a golf course.
“In my 20 years of being a custodian in a golf course, I can say that it’s the land architecture that clients also consider. How large the entire golf course is, the scenery, and most especially, the landscape design of where they will be playing,” Abugan said.
The golf course plays a big part in the sport, as it is the main attraction. As Abugan explained, the architectural or landscaping design of South Forbes won them the 2007 CNBC International Property Awards as the Best Golf Community Development, for preserving and maintaining the local flora and fauna within the area.
Abugan said it’s like hitting a bird with two stones.
“Unlike many other golf courses, which have flat terrains, we, in South Forbes, offer a more challenging and very eco-friendly landscape. Not only have we maintained the original terrain of the golf course, but at the same time, we offer a unique and exceptional terrain,” he said. “All the uphill and downhill topography, the challenge there is golfers will think of more strategies to control their power when playing. We call it ‘course management,’ where you manage your game.”
Above all, the main reason why players enjoy golf is that they can relax while playing. Abugan said older people comprise a big portion of those who love the sport, which is not so exhausting as other sports.
“We want to make sure that when they play golf here, they will really enjoy their stay, plus, they exercise and feel healthy,” he said. “It’s even environment-friendly because as much as possible we try to maintain its vegetation.”
Another thing that makes golf especially appealing is that even kids and teens can play it. One need not always be professional to play golf. Anyone can start as an amateur.
“Anyone who succeeded in any sport started as an amateur—perhaps, others started when they were still kids,” Abugan said. “And this one goes with golf as well. We have the so called ‘driving range,’ where starters practice with the basics.”
Amenities count a lot, too
As much as people want a serene place to play golf, amenities and services that a golf club offers are also prime considerations for players.
“Of course, clients would also be looking for facilities inside the golf club like shower rooms, where they usually take a shower before or after the play, lockers, and function areas,” Abugan said. “We also have the Golf Clubhouse, restaurant and two tea houses, 50 units of electric golf carts, a driving range, a ‘pro shop’ to buy gears and apparels from, and 120 well-trained caddies.”
But Abugan stressed that just like in any other businesses, what makes people come back to them is the warm reception clients get from all the golf club employees.
“How we deal with our clients is one of the best things that we can offer,” he said. “Human factor is very important and we treasure that a lot.”
Not just for the rich
Golf is reputed to be an elite sport apparently due to being high-maintenance. Often, people cannot play golf without spending a hundred pesos an hour. But unknown to many, this is not always the case.
“Technically, golf can be considered a high-cost kind of sport compared with other sports,” Abugan explained. “Its sustainability will require an individual to put so much money, that we tend to think it is only for the elite or the few chosen ones. But if you come to think of it, some of our professional golfers are not really rich. Their only advantage is that they really love to play golf. Their talent or skill in playing golf is their edge. So definitely, golf is not really for the rich alone. In fact, once these exceptional golf players are recognized by the owner of the golf course, they are given sponsorship to play in a competition or tournament.”
But as the Philippines continue to grow as a nation and grow its economy, South Forbes has decided to build a community with the high-end market as its target.
“The vision of the company is to really develop a township community in the south of Metro Manila for the high-end market,” shared Achilles Gadayan, marketing and sales head at South Forbes. “With the high-end market in mind, one connection that we thought is to play golf. That’s why we developed a community with a golf course as an anchor amenity.”
As Abugan explained, Gadayan said their company wants to offer something very different from other communities in the area, as they include a golf course as part of their services.
“We want to have a development that others don’t have, which is basically a golf course as an amenity,” Gadayan said. “A normal village amenity would only comprise a basketball court, swimming pool, and others. But in our case, we have these all already in each of the 11 boutique communities of South Forbes, so we decided to put another one for us to be unique.”
Also, because of its proximity to some technological and industrial estates, South Forbes has the advantage or edge of attracting even walk-in clients.
“One of the reasons, too, that we have a golf course is that this place is close to the Laguna Techno Park and other industrial estates,” Gadayan added. “We also found out that they are fond of playing golf. Plus, various organizations or groups conduct tournaments here.”
A nation of golfers
South Forbes’ goal now is to attract more Filipinos to play golf, to the point of succeeding in the sport as much as they enjoy it.
“Actually, we encourage people to try golf until they fall in love with the sport,” Gadayan said. “In fact, many of our clients are foreigners. So normally, while working here in the Philippines, they take advantage of the moment and play golf.”