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Mango Tee marks golf’s resurgence

photograph by Joey sanchez Mendoza for the daily tribune @tribunephl_joey CELEBRITY Derek Ramsay, who has a handicap of -3, studies his line of putt. He was among the first to tee off Monday in the six-day Mango Tee Invitational at Alabang Country Club. 

It hasn’t fully dawned when the shot rang out, signifying the shotgun start, on Monday for Day 1 of the 36th Mango Tee Invitational at the Alabang Country Club.

Yet, all 120-plus golfers responded promptly, firing away from each of the course’s 18 holes. The morning batch needed to finish early, because there were just as many players teeing off by lunchtime.

It will be the case in the next five days as almost 800 members and guests are seeing action what is considered the country’s biggest tournament of its kind.

For golf director Benjie Sumulong, the sport’s massive resurgence is clearly reflected in the record field.

“Golf is back, maybe even stronger that it did before the pandemic,” Sumulong told Tribune Golf.

“These days there are not only men but young boys and girls, we are talking eight-, nine-year-olds. They play in the afternoon mostly. And there are more and more women who take up the sport.”

Of course, the phenomenon is observed across the globe. But Sumulong was speaking from first-hand experience.

ACC marked its largest number of players in history when it had 55,293 players for 2023.

“That should be the peak,” he said.

There were no data available pre-pandemic, but in 2020, ACC only catered to 29,335 players. That year, ACC was closed off for two months, April and May. The whole of October that year, only two played which was probably the lowest turnout ever by the club.

When restriction was eased up in 2021, it had 39,444. And in 2022, 47,067 played the course.

Players who teed off on Aggregate Monday, including celebrities like Vic Sotto and Derek Ramsay, will come back for the Best Ball second round on Thursday.

Those who start on Tuesday will play again Friday, and Wednesday Saturday. Scores will then be collated for declaration of winners in the four different classifications Saturday evening.

“That makes it exciting because those who have finished their two rounds will be anticipating for the scores of those playing in other days,” Sumulong added.

“And those who are playing in the later dates will have their eyes on the finished rounds.”

There will be team and individual champions. But most exciting of all, cars will be given away as hole-in-one prizes including a P3.3-million Mercedes Benz.

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