Story & photos by Mike Besa
On our last visit to Pradera Verde in August of last year, we mentioned the fact that work had started on the second golf course at the club. Today, some 11 months later, the third nine at this oasis of golf in Lubao, Pampanga, has been opened for play.
Pradera Verde came seemingly out of nowhere back in 2017. The golf market was far from its best but with the success of the Philippine Golf Tour, things were looking up. Club share values were still stagnant and few, if any, golf courses were being built in that time.
Pradera Verde came into being because of one man’s passion for the game. It helped that he had the resources to pursue his passion unhindered but all of Philippine golf has benefited from it. It could be argued that Pradera Verde’s success jump-started the local golf market. Today, there are other golf courses under construction; the South Pacific Golf Club just opened in Dakak, outside of Davao; and Pinewoods Golf and Country Club finally opened nine holes of golf for play in the city of Baguio last year. Club share values are up for the first time in over a decade and, although it cannot be said definitively that Pradera Verde’s success was the spark that started it all, if you look at the timelines, it certainly looks that way.
When designing a second golf course for a club, it is important to offer variety in the design and concept of the new course. It makes sense. Give the patrons a different brand of golf with the new course. With Pradera’s first layout being fairly long and flat, course designer and current general manager of Pradera Verde, Mike Singgaran, decided to make the second golf course shorter with a bit more undulation and you’ll see the added undulations both on the fairways and the greens.
There’s still plenty of water on this side of the golf course. Canals and small lakes dot the nine and provide a modicum of difficulty to the golf course. Nothing as dramatic as some of the forced carries on the first course but they do add spice to the round.
The fairways are very generous and length off the tee is rewarded by some very short irons coming into the greens. The greens are the golf course’s defense. They have significant slopes built into them and while not as severely sloped as, say, the greens at Mount Malarayat, they are significant enough to make life with the putter very difficult for us.
The new nine comes into its own after a few holes. Six is a beautiful par 4 that doglegs to the left in one of the more rural corners of the golf course. I’ve played the new course twice now and have yet to figure out the eighth hole. It’s the most difficult hole on this side and much as to do with the green. The front of the green features a narrow sliver of putting surface that’s sloped significantly from back to front and is flanked by bunkers. You cannot miss on one side or the other and expect to get up and down when the pin is in the front. There’s just not enough room to keep your ball on the putting surface.
That aside, this looks like another very pleasant resort course. It’s not a championship quality but not all golf courses need to be as such. There’s plenty of room for a fairly easy, very pleasant golf course on which golfers can just have a good time. The competitive set can always play another set of tees back; there’s enough length here to keep most entertained.
It’s impossible to offer an opinion on the golf course this early in the development. Work has yet to begin on the second half of the golf course. We understand that it has to do with the owner’s plans for the rest of the development and that he’s considering a couple of options on the final location of the last nine.
Until then, we can only watch and wait until the golf course is finally complete. It will complement the nature of the first course with one uniquely its own. It will complete the golf experience at Pradera Verde and hopefully take it to another level.