There is a palpable sense of longing every time we hear the word Baguio. Ever since the turn of the 20th century this city in the clouds has chilled itself into the hearts of the thousands who make trip up winding roads to find a city ensconced in the Cordilleras that offers a chance to wear that jacket bought in the ukay-ukay.
Of course, what would be a destination without a golf course? Built to be part of Camp John Hay, which was a Rest and Recreation facility for the US military, the golf course was an adventure in itself. Featuring drastic elevation changes that tested mettle over might, it included a hole they called the Cardiac Hill because after hitting your tee shot into a vertical mountain face, you had to climb it.
Somehow that course was able to host the 1997 Philippine Open—the real Philippine Open which is a distinction very few courses in the country could be proud of.
Today the Cardiac Hill is no more. You still hit into the mountain face,range. Some years after the base was turned over to the Philippine government the Fil-Estate group brought in Jack Nicklaus to make a radical redesign of the course.
Nicklaus was in his element. The course pretty much retained the ambiance of the old course with the towering pines and hilly terrain that teases you to play power golf where prudence may be the better option. The temperate climate has also allowed the use of bentgrass for the greens and the resulting green speeds have added considerably to the challenge that John Hay has become.
Top destination, top golf course. John Hay is up there as one of the top courses in the country.