Sun Valley has also been my favorite course. It would be my go to course to take clients who were visiting from overseas. Sun Valley is where I would always take Uncle John when he visited from Taiwan and is part of the reason why I’m now so close with Vince.
For those interested, Vince and I met back in 2011 at an event my PR agency was doing for the launch of Olukai sandals in Punta Fuego. I saw this big Ogre walking on the beach and immediately noticed his Callaway hat and a gnarly sock tan that suggested that he spends a lot of time on the course. Vince and I started talking and he asked me where I normally play. I told him that by far, my favorite is little known course up north in Antipolo called, Sun Valley, and he quickly replied, “No way… that’s my home course also.”
We linked up there two weeks later and now play regularly together with Donnie and Mark unless there’s a tournament or something else comes up.
I want to write about all the great qualities about Sun Valley but this post would never end. So instead, I’ll focus on a few of the main points that initially drew me to the course and still keep me going there.
Sun Valley is by far the most well maintained public golf course in and around Metro Manila. If you’re use to the hard greens and beat up fairways and tee boxes at the military courses around Metro Manila, I suggest you treat yourself to a round at Sun Valley. Only 30-minutes from Makati (C5 to Marcos Highway), Sun Valley is a signature Arnold Palmer designed course that features flat tee boxes and manicured greens and fairways as good, if not better than what you’d find on most private courses around the world.
Once on the course, you will immediately notice how clean the air is. Built in the hills of Antipolo, Sun Valley is set against the backdrop of the Sierra Madres and provides one of the most picturesque golfing experiences in the entire country. The absence of smog and honking jeepneys and buses is so melodic and serene and a perfect recharge after a long work week.
Operations wise, Sun Valley has got its act together. The owner and course manager and to put it politely is a drill sergeant. This means everything runs like clockwork and stupid sh*t like what happened to me at Valley Golf, doesn’t happen at Sun Valley. All caddies are also well trained and can therefore tell you intelligently where to hit and how the greens breaks.
The clubhouse is airy and comfortable while the locker rooms and showers at Sun Valley are best I’ve been to in the Philippines even topping Manila Golf in my opinion. Shower are private with great water pressure and hot water straight from the tap (This is important… I hate going to courses and dealing with the stupid water heaters). There’s plenty of space to change in front of your locker so you don’t feel like you’re literally sitting on top of another old, wrinkly, naked golfer. Best part of all is Sun Valley’s sauna! It’s clean, fresh and perfect after a long round filled with lots of beer.
Most of all, the course is challenging enough for scratch golfer but not overly impossible that it deters amateurs. I’ve been playing at Sun Valley religiously for the past four years and each time I discover something new with the subtle slopes and awkward lies.
If you haven’t played Sun Valley yet, I highly recommend doing so this weekend. It’s an inspiring course and great escape from the abrasive city. I promise you’ll leave there with the urge to return the week after for all the reason I mentioned above. Visit Sun Valley’s website for additional information and contact details!
Below is a short walkthrough of the course and a few playing tip on each hole. All yardage from the blue tees. Hope to see you there one of these days! 🙂
Hole 1 (353 yards / par-4)
This is a tricky tee shot to start off the round with. The fairway balloons out behind the trees on the left but just make sure you cross it and don’t go too left. Bunkers guard the right side.
Hole 2 (438 yards / par-4)
This is easily the hardest hole on the course.
Even if you crunch your drive, at best, you’re looking at a 150-170 yard uphill approach shot guarded by bunkers on the left and right side of the green. In the past 4 years, I’ve only made it on the green in two strokes once and have parred this hole less than a handful of times.
HOLE 3 (140 yards / par-3)
A short par-3 that plays left to right and slightly up-hill. Bunkers guard the front and side along with a creek that runs all along the ride side of the green. Advice is to take a bit more club as there’s a big rough on the backside of green if you go over though be sure not to stray too far to the right.
HOLE 4 (312 yards / par-4)
This hole is a b*tch also. A good tee shot leaves you with at best 120 yards in but because of the severe uphill lie, add an extra 25 – 30 yards.
Make sure you get good loft our the greens will take your ball right off the back. If you’re putting down, make sure you keep pace otherwise your ball will roll right off and back down the hill.
HOLE 5 (414 yard / par-4)
A blind tee shot, this hole plays very straight. Aim to the left or right side of the fairway.
If you get a good kick, your ball could roll all the way down the hill leaving you with a good 60-80 yard pitch in.
HOLE 6 (186 yard / par-3)
One of the signature holes of the course, this par-3 plays more like a 160-yards and is guarded by water all along the left. Be careful not to hit long as there’s a big water hazard behind. Best bet is to stay right.
HOLE 7 (351 yard / par-4)
A dog-leg right, the initial tee shot isn’t that long but just visually daunting over water. Vince and the rest take a driver here but I started taking a 3-wood instead so that I can stay a bit straighter. Approach is into an elevated tee box. Don’t go long as there’s no rough behind the green.
HOLE 8 (498 yard / par-5)
Stay accurate on this tee shot. The fairway is very narrow and only opens up towards the bottom. Best to stay on the left side of the fairway on your first two shots before cutting in with a wedge on your approach. Must be accurate with a bunker & hazard in front and a water along the back of the green!
HOLE 9 (451 yards / par-5)
This is a short par-5 and very makable on the green in two if you’re a long hitter and have the guts to go over the left side trees.
That will set you up with a 150-yard downhill shot into the green.
go long if you can’t decide on the club as there’s a creek guarding the front side green. Vinnie putting for birdie here two weeks back.
HOLE 10 (337 yards / par-4)
A good short hole to start off the back, you don’t need a long tee shot on this one. 220 yard shot leaves you with a short wedge to 9-iron in.
View from the green.
HOLE 11 (340 yards / par-4)
A tricky dog-leg right, bunkers guard the left and right side of where your ball will land. If you’re big hitter, suggested to go the right-side bunker but make sure you hit straight to avoid trees and hazards on the right.
Approach shot in is up and to a green that’s longer than it seems from the fairway. Best to hit pass the pin if possible as the hill slopes down and will funnel your ball back to the hole.
HOLE 12 (205 yards / par-3)
This is a relatively long par-3 that plays a bit downhill around 195 yards. No real tricks to this hole besides staying right to avoid the two nasty looking bunkers on the right side. Always a b*tch when Chris moves the pin to the left side of the green.
HOLE 16 (522 yard / par-5)
This is a long hole. It feel long when you’re standing on the tee box. Stay straight on your tee shot. There’s water and hazards on the left side, which I’m convinced Vince’s ball is magnetized to.
Approach shot is up a bit again.
HOLE 17 (331 yard / par-4)
Dog-leg left. If you’re a long hitter, don’t take a driver or you might end up going too far forward and into the drink.
A decent tee shot will leave you with a good downhill 125 yard shot in. Stay left to avoid the water on the right which doesn’t seem like a factor but always plays a part. An easy pitch in will roll up to the green.
HOLE 18 (375 yards / par-4)
Handicap-2 on the entire course, a good tee shot doesn’t really matter as you’re still left with a very long shot uphill into the green over water and surrounded by bunkers. I take an easy 3-wood off the tee and try to crunch a 6-iron as hard as I can.
View from the green
*FYI, hole’s 13, 14 and 15 were knocked out the typhoon last year. The course has substituted in its 3 additional practice holes while the new 13, 14 ,and 15 are set to open sometime in May 2013.
HOLE 20 (370 yards / par-4)
This is a tricky dog-leg left. Good to play a draw but beware that there’s water behind the mountain on the left. Stay to the right of the big tree. Anything to the left of it is likely gone to the water unless you fade it back into the middle of the fairway. Second shot in is guarded by the same water hazard all in front. Hit a bit stronger just to be sure.
HOLE 21 (110 yards / par-3)
Short par-3 guarded by water in the front and a big bunker in the back. The green is very narrow and doesn’t give you much room to work if you land in the sand so you have to be accurate. Great hole to test your wedge skills until the new holes open.
Special thanks to Chris Ong for allowing us to drink so heavily on your course.