From as far as Davao and Cebu down south, to that Robert Trent Jones-created gem in the north and the demanding, well-manicured layouts in Manila or very near it, golf courses are getting the same treatment at this time of the enhanced community quarantine as if its members will be playing tomorrow.
Exclusive layouts have stay-in staff, while Villamor Golf Club, the public championship course in Pasay that is the home of the Philippine Masters, even has its own general manager locked down inside the complex to assure that everything is run well and that the course is kept in shape.
“You’ll never know when the lockdown will end,” said general manager Oscar Calingasan of Villamor, who has stayed inside his place of work since the lockdown was ordered. “Every day, [the maintenance crew] cuts the grass on the fairways, mounds and greens.
“In case you want to play, you can do so now,” Calingasan added with a laugh.
Manila Southwoods and Alabang, two exclusive clubs located very near Manila, have skeleton forces working every day to keep their courses in top shape. Southwoods, which has the Legends and the Masters layouts, has 10-15 people working daily to keep the well-manicured look on its layouts.
“We can’t let the grass grow so much,” SW’s Jerome Delariarte said. “Our greens have the priority, the fairways get watered no more than twice a week, so we save on water cost. This has a great impact on the environment.”
Alabang, like Wack Wack in Mandaluyong, is being maintained by a third party, and both clubs have staff that they quartered in their respective complexes to keep their courses in shape.
“We can be ready in two days’ time after the lockdown is ordered lifted,” said Erwin Vinluan, the former pro who is now Wack Wack’s golf director. “The challenge for us right now is the water for the course. We outsource our water and we are having trouble with that.”
Ready after lockdown
“We have a total of 24 people housed in our complex,” Alabang’s Henry Arabejo said. “All of them are crucial in maintaining the shape of the course. Yes, we can be ready the day after the lockdown.”
Alta Vista in Cebu and Rancho Palos Verdes in Davao are doing the same.
“It’s as if we are still open,” Nimrod Quiñones of Alta Vista told the Inquirer over the phone. “It’s business as usual for the maintenance crew. We apply our fertilizers when we need to and cut the grass when we need to.”
Luisita in Tarlac, one of six Trent Jones-designed courses in the country, has done more than that.
“We have taken advantage of this break to do the repairs on the entire facility, including painting of the clubhouse,” Jeric Hechanova said. “Of course, our main product is the golf course, so we are keeping that in great shape.”
These courses also haven’t forgotten the unsung heroes of their businesses, as they have taken care of their caddies and the others in their times of need.
“Monthly assessments have been given to our members,” Tommy Inigo, the newspaper photographer turned Palos Verdes general manager said. “Our members have been ready to lend a helping hand, starting from Day One.”
Help for caddies
Southwoods, Villamor, Alabang and all the others have done the same, with caddies, umbrella girls and those dependent on the clubs’ day-to-day operations getting help in the form of cash and relief goods.
“That’s the least we can do for them,” Delariarte said. “So we are one in praying that all of this ends soon, so everyone can go about doing what they were doing before and continue to earn a living for their families.”
The health emergency situation in the country hasn’t turned for the better as of this writing, but all the general managers that the Inquirer talked to said that they will continue to treat their courses with the tender loving care the they deserve.
“When this is all over, I’m sure that all the players will be looking forward to playing a round,” Calingasan said. “And we will be ready to welcome them with open arms and give them the enjoyment they missed.”
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