Manila Southwoods doesn’t worry about relevance amid the sprouting of new golf courses throughout the years.
It already knows where it stands in the Philippine golf landscape: Right on its heartland.
Just in the last 12 months, the 30-year-old golf course has staged two of the biggest events in the region, the Queen Sirikit Cup and the Nomura Cup.
But already, there are talks it may host the Philippine Open for two consecutive years starting this November, depending on the decision of the Asean Tour.
“What makes it relevant is really what Southwoods has been envisioned to be,” said chairman Robert John Sobrepeña in an exclusive interview with Tribune Golf.
“It’s not just a golf course, not just a typical membership course for its members. When I put up Southwoods I envisioned it for the members and guests, but also to help golf in general, the industry of golf. First by giving the Philippines world-class golf facility; second for tournament golf, international-caliber tournaments.”
It has been truly a dynamic golf course in all respects. Jayson Yu has now taken over as OIC following the retirement of Mark Watson as general manager. Jerome Delariarte moved up from golf director to assistant GM.
But of course, it’s Sobrepeña who has the final say in everything.
“All of my GMs report to me, I’m still the one running it,” said the renowned businessman.
He also owns and manages Club John Hay up north, Forest Hills in the east, and Sherwood in the south. Yet Southwoods remains to be the flagship.
‘What makes it relevant is really what Southwoods has been envisioned to be.’
Just last week, Southwoods opened the half of the newly improved men’s locker with the other half expected to be completed by August. Also undergoing refurbishment was the Mulligan Bar.
The greens are under constant renovation and works in the fairways and bunkers are done regularly. In short, the upkeep is top notch.
“Over time the greens become smaller, grasses mutate and weeds proliferate,” Sobrepeña said.
“The only way to describe it is, if you ever tried taking care of a garden you could imagine taking care of a golf course, only bigger and with the very high standard.”
It’s easy to see how dear Southwoods is for Sobrepeña. It’s his first golf course development.
“I told Jack (Nicklaus), build me a facility that could host the largest international events, so he designed it to hold big international events,” he said.
In 1996, Southwoods hosted what is considered the “Olympics of golf,” the Eisenhower Cup in both its Masters and Legends courses. Australia won the championship that year.
The past years, Southwoods played host to the Asean Tour for seven straight years.
“All of that is happening Southwoods, these big events gravitate toward us,” Sobrepeña said.
“What makes Southwoods special is that it’s not just golf course. Imprinted on its DNA is the support for golf by way of events. We also support junior golf, we train them to play for Southwoods team (amateur golf),” Sobrepeña said.
True enough, Southwoods is more than just a golf course. It’s become a brand in itself.