The Rebirth of the Mimosa Golf and Country Club

In Photo: Six looks like it belongs on a postcard.

Built in the midst of the great golf-course boom of the early-1990s the Mimosa Golf and Country Club Mimosa is built on what was known as the Clark Air Base Golf Club. The original 18 was split and expanded into what are now two lovely golf courses. Redesigned in 1992 under former Mimosa Leisure Estate Chairman Antonio Gonzales by Hawaii-based course architects Robin Nelson and Neal Haworth, Mimosa now boasts two delightful golf courses, the Mountain View and Acacia-Lakeview, that exploit the varied terrain of the vast property.

It was a smashing success. The Mountain View played host to Tiger Woods in his first international exhibition when he played one-on-one with then Philippine No. 1 Cassius Casas. This was just after Woods had left Stanford University to turn professional and it was a spectacle. It also defined Mimosa’s Mountain View course as one of the top championship golf courses in the country.

The Mountain View course’s ultimate green.

Then the dream began to fall apart. The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) sued Gonzales over alleged violations in their agreement and after a long, protracted battle, eventually took back custody and ownership of the property. The golf courses suffered as the BCDA stewards failed to care for them properly. But financially, the club was thriving with the seemingly never-ending stream of Korean tourists and the burgeoning Korean community outside the base’s gates.

Filinvest Development Corp. eventually purchased the rights to Mimosa from the BCDA some two and a half years ago and things turned around. Rechristened Filinvest Mimosa + Leisure City, it is envisioned as an integrated, balanced, and eco-centric community. Filinvest intends to capitalize on the 201-hectare property’s strengths and develop the key components of the new city—leisure, business, residential and nature.

“We envision a leisure metropolis that is very much nature-inspired. We want it to be the top-of-mind destination for tourism and commerce in Clark and in the North,” Filinvest Executive Vice President Catherine Ilagan said. “Leveraging on the experience of Filinvest, you can expect Mimosa+ to be nothing less than the very best, with features, amenities and infrastructure that’s simply world-class.”

The changes since Filinvest took over have been sweeping. Most of the old cottages were demolished to make way for the new facilities. Two new office buildings are currently under construction and might open later in 2018. To further make Filinvest Mimosa+ a premium lifestyle destination, the development of a hub for shopping, dining and events is under way. A lifestyle mall will be home to some of the best retail stores and restaurants in a nature-inspired and al fresco setting. It will also have its own Event Grounds, a sprawling venue for some of the biggest events in the North.

The golf courses have benefited in the midst of the development. Recognizing the golf courses were key components of the resort community, they invested in new equipment and plan a comprehensive rehabilitation of both golf courses over the midterm that will replace the aging sprinkler and drainage systems. Expect subtle changes to the golf courses to bring them up to spec and make them even more playable. To remain true to the original design, the firm of Nelson and Haworth will oversee the renovation.

Mimosa + has been a very good investment for Filinvest Development Corp. So much so that we understand that they’re shopping around for more golf property investments. This is a positive sign that bodes well for the development of golf in the country.

The Mountain View course is, without a doubt, one of the best layouts in the country today. If the course were in better condition, it would be a lock for a top 10 spot in any discussion of the best golf courses in the country. The undulating terrain and sublime vistas provide an ideal setting for golf and the Mountain View provides some of the best. This is the championship golf course that hosted Tiger Woods and is a test for golfers of all skill levels.

At a monstrous 7,303 yards from the tips, the Mountain View is one of the longest in the Philippines. It straddles the new and old worlds of Philippine golf courses. On the one hand, it is of modern construction and, on the other, the century-old acacia trees and expansive layout give it the feel of a much older golf course. The quality of the layout, the aethetics and the challenge presented to the golfer are on par with the best golf courses in the country.

You’ll need a good long game to score here. Even from the men’s tees (blue) it’s no pushover. It’s a slightly unusual layout with three par-3s on the front and just one on the back nine. The first three holes take you around a hill that hosts the former communications tower of the old American air base. The golf course opens up after the almost claustrophobic opening holes and the golf becomes more enjoyable and more testing simultaneously.

The Mountain View really comes into its own on the inward nine. Two of the longest par 4s and three par 5s are on this side, making it a formidable task for the weekend golfer. The 480-yard (from the green tees) 12th and the breathtakingly beautiful 458-yard 15th will prove especially difficult. It’s interesting that the hardest hole on the back is the 578-yard par-5 13th; water is in play after the tee shot and the green is set just up against the lake, which poses most of the problems for the golfer.

The par 3s are delightful; six looks like it belongs on a postcard, while 16 offers the ultimate treat: an island green. It’s not too long measuring just 153 yards from the gold tees and the green is generous. The course closes with a magnificent par 5 that requires maneuvering your ball around century-old acacia trees. The hole plays uphill toward the clubhouse and is well bunkered to frustrate all but the best approach shots.

In spite of its difficulty, it’s a beautiful golf course and a sheer pleasure to play. There are beautiful views of the Zambales mountain range and Mount Arayat is never out of sight. This is a beautiful place for golf. Factor in the amazing cuisine of the Capampangans and you have the makings of a great golfing getaway that is more accessible than ever.

The changes at Mimosa+ and to Pampanga as a whole mark it as the hotbed of development for the near and midterm. Billions of pesos are being invested here to bolster infrastructure and lure businesses to the central plain of Luzon. We see Pampanga as the future center of development in the country today. Blessed with an airport of international standards and one of the best deep-water ports anywhere in the country today, the region is poised to take off. Expect Mimosa+ to be on the forefront of that push into the future of the country.

Image Credits: Mike Besa

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Turning Points 2018