Consider it hyperbole, but you can say that The Orchard was the course that launched a thousand golf courses.
The first of many golf courses that the Sta Lucia Realty has built, The Orchard has two courses designed by golfing greats Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. The Palmer Course is the more prominent of the two and it hosted the Johnnie Walker Classic 1995 which was won by Fred Couples. After a long hiatus, this was the first international tournament in the country since Wack Wack hosted the World Cup in 1977.
Fred Couples won that star-studded tournament where Nick Price, Greg Norman, Vijay Singh and Colin Montgomerie also played. The event signaled a return of the country to the international prominence it once had in the sport of golf.
The Palmer course was a fitting choice. Designed to flow around a mango orchard (after which the club got its name), the course fans out from a massive all-in-one clubhouse which featured a sports center that had a swimming pool, bowling alley and basketball court among other facilities. This clubhouse layout was a first in the country and set the tone for the future golf development projects of Sta Lucia Realty.
The course is set amid the rolling terrain of Dasmarinas, Cavite and Palmer’s design makes ample use of the waterways and the gentle rise and fall of the contours that the area had to offer. The penalty areas are scattered around the course and they will keep you on your toes but they will really only come into play if you decide to flirt with them, attack the course and play heroic golf.
The Sixth aptly demonstrates that. This Par 5 is a short 505 yards and definitely reachable in two but the green plays uphill and is fully protected by water and bunkers. Go for the green if you can fly it over these penalty areas, otherwise there is no shame in playing it as a 3-shot hole.
There are other risk-reward holes on this course. At 384 yards, the Par 4 Thirteenth teases you to pull out the big stick and get as close as possible to the green for a dainty pitch that could result in a birdie. But there is OB on the left and the penalty area on the right crimps the fairway so that drive better be right on the money.
The Orchard has slowly gained prominence as one of the better managed and maintained courses in the country that has developed a strong membership base. What started out as a dip in the pond to test the waters of golf course/residential development by the Sta Lucia has certainly reaped its rewards.