To put it simply: Sta Elena is what a Golf Club should be.
Outstanding golf course, delectable cuisine, excellent service, and minimal club politics all add up to an exclusive membership club that consistently won Inquirer Golf’s Club of the Year award in the past. The reality was Sta Elena was selected every year, and the award was eventually discontinued since everyone already knew which was the best golf club in the country.
This 27-hole golf complex is the start of a Robert Trent Jones Jr. track of golf courses that ends up in Lipa, Batangas. RTJII outdid himself here and he created an outstandingly designed and shaped course that is always in tip-top shape.
The three 9-hole loops are named after the two prominent mountains visible from the course, Banahaw and Makiling and the third the distant Sierra Madre mountain range. It is then possible to create three 18-hole courses by combining whatever suits your fancy or whatever course is open at the moment.
The more eminent combination would be the first two nines as they exude a similar feel and look, and it is this combination that is usually in play when tournaments are held in Sta Elena. This is not to say that the third nine has become an afterthought since that nine also has its own considerable challenges to offer as well.
The first 18-holes were completed in 1993 and the third nine was opened for play in 1995. Sta Elena was the host of the 1996 Women’s World Amateur Golf Championship (Espiritu Santo Cup) which was won by South Korea. Jennifer Rosales and Dorothy Delasin represented the Philippines. The 1995 Philippine Classic and the 1996 Asian Match Play which were legs of the Asian tour were also held in Sta Elena.
The course and the layout have beautifully matured a quarter century or so after the club opened for play. The fire trees and acacias as well as the other trees planted have grown statelier and now frame the holes and fairways giving the course a distinctly finished look.
Sta Elena has etched itself in the annals of Philippine golf for staying true to the standards that it has set itself to. If every golf course in the country was like this, we must be in heaven.