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Last But Not Least – Eagle Ridge Norman Course

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With three very disparate golf courses already fully operational in late 2002, Eagle Ridge had yet to unveil the fourth and last installment to the behemoth golf property development in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia. After being bedazzled by the zen of the Aoki course, befuddled by the improbability of the Dye Course, and berated by the discipline the Faldo course demands, golfers were eagerly awaiting the highly anticipated bemusement of what the designer, Greg “The Shark” Norman had to offer. The Norman Course finally opened in 2003.

The Front Nine:

Hole No. 1 is a slight dog leg right par 4 out of bounds on the right. A solid drive should allow you to hurdle the fairway bunker on the right which would then give you a short iron shot to the green. Other than the two greenside bunkers left and right guarding the green, a nice approach to the centre of the green should be manageable. Norman ups the ante on the next hole as it plays to a handicap 5. The downhill dogleg right Hole No. 2 looks intimidating from the tee off area as there it a real possibility of tee shots finding the wooded area on the right. If you do hit the fairway, the second shot is not a patsy either as the elevated green is heavily undulated with the green platform dropping away and toward the left bunker fronting the green. There’s no rest for the weary as Norman presses on at the next hole, the par 5 handicap 3 Hole No. 3. Being on the attack this early in the round may not be a good option as there are plenty of things that can go wrong for an errant tee shot. Left is out of bounds, while the right is shrubbery. Hitting your second shot is a challenge as well since you have to shape your ball away from the fairway bunker on the right. The green does not give anything away either since aside from its small size and heavily contoured, it requires hitting your approach on the proper side of the green in order to stick there. And on to the next corner, Hole No. 4 is a par 3 playing at 195 yards from the tips. Playing this hole requires some pre-shot analysis of the conditions such as pin placement, and wind direction. Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 7.31.46 AM Hole No.5 is uphill all the way and tests one’s accuracy coupled with extra length to get to the short iron approach. Avoid the steep faced fairway bunkers as obviously this will ruin your chances to get on in regulation. The green should not provide much problem once you get it on in there. The next hole then offers a respite as it is the second easiest hole on the course. The landing area for your tee shot should be generous enough to receive even a slightly errant tee shot, but be careful of the ubiquitous fairway bunker defence the Norman course if known for. Best spot to hit your tee shot is right and short of the farthest bunker (the safest line, too). From there, it should be an easy short iron approach to a larger sized two tiered green. Go get your birdie here. The next hole, the par 4 7th could tempt long hitters to aim straight to the direction of the green as against the course management types who would opt to hit their tee shots to a generous landing area towards the right. From the blue tees, the green plays to just over 300 yards to a questionable landing area riddled with fair way bunkers. The safe alternative tee shot hitting the fairway offers up a facile wedge shot to the green, so it’s not really a Risk-Reward situation for the former option, but rather a Dumb Risk situation, so to speak. The second par 3 in the front nine should strike most golfers as more picturesque than menacing. Miss the green and you open up a set of problems consisting of deep greenside bunkers and collection areas. Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 7.31.55 AM Eagle Ridge Norman Course   Hitting the green is not a guarantee itself unless you get on the right side of the seemingly three sided green. And so, before you leave the front nine, Norman seems to be setting you up for what your disposition will be for the second nine. The par 4 Hole No. 9 is the hardest hole in the course. Playing uphill wall the way, Hole No. 9 features a generous fairway, but punishes an errant tee shot with strategically situated fairway bunker for all types of ball lengths and shapes sure to make you struggle for par of bogey even. If you do find the fairway, it may still be a long iron shot to the green with even more bunkers to contend with. The green is spacious as a Ferrari so hitting the green requires a highly accurate shot.

The Back Nine:

Norman starts you off easy at the start of the back nine, probably in remorse from handing you the most difficult hole in the course at the end of the front nine. Hole No. 10 is a par 4 playing to a handicap 16. At 432 from the tips, Norman makes sure you are aware of all the trouble that might beset you on this hole as he puts within your sights the successive deep bunkers straddling the left side of the fairway. You will need to stretch out the big dog to avoid falling into those bunkers, the reward of which is an approach to the green that can be done by running the ball up the green as well. Hole No. 11 encourages players to be right of the fairway. A significantly present tree-filled lateral hazard front and left of the green is definitely in play on the approach. Conservative play on this par 5 hole is recommended to have a chance at birdie. Hole No. 12 also should be played right of the fairway as the left side is marked by a thick, wooded area. Take a little more time thinking of the proper club for your approach as the green is elevated to about five clubs deep. Hole No. 13 features a narrowing landing area for the average weekend golfers length off the tee. Miss right of the landing area and a trio of bunkers await your ball into their sandy environs. The green is quite tricky in that the front of the green slopes forward and away from the green while the back slopes back and out of the green as well. The first of two par 3’s in the back, Hole No. 14 counts the behaviour of the wind and the sloping green as its defence against par. With two bunkers flanking both the front left and right sections of the green, a pin placement at the back left coupled by wind conditions should make for an interesting club selection. It is recommended to take in the sights as you walk to the 15th tee as it presents you with an idyllic scene in the ravine on the right. And then you are now in Hole No. 15; only the second hardest hole in the course. Eagle Ridge Norman Course2 Eagle Ridge Norman Course3 The 515-yard par 5 is all uphill. Up on your tee shot, up on your second shot and further uphill on your approach to the green; all along a narrow fairway with a thickly wooded lateral hazard lined right side. One of the holes with the fewest bunker count (2) considering it’s a par 5 hole, you should play this hole smartly by taking risky shot making out of the shot list and just concentrate on putting your ball in play. Walking out with a par on this hole is equivalent to making birdie, most members swear. And onto the last corner. At handicap 4, Hole No. 16 is quite intimidating in that the right side of the fairway is a tree-lined lateral hazard before continuing seamlessly onto the fairway and acting as a guard for the front of the green. The green has a distinct ridge so depending on the pin placement, your ball could easily end up on the wrong side of the ridge. The penultimate hole of the Norman course is also the easiest rated hole. The par 3 handicap 18 hole 17th main defence is its undulating greens. The small green generally slopes from right to left and back to front. So, take note of the pin placement. And finally you reach Hole No. 18. where you’re probably aching to release the big dog one last time on this round. But you find that the more prudent tee shot is a fairway wood short of the steep faced bunkers lining the right side of the fairway. Since it is a slight dog leg left, you might want to try to bring your ball to the left, but tall trees there might impede your planned shortcut. In any case, any tee shot that hits the fairway should be helped along to score par or better since the green is larger on this hole and if you just keep away from the only bunker guarding the green on the left then you only have to navigate the read on the ridge that runs across the green. Nursing the “Eagle” back to health – the P3M-ICTSI Eagle Ridge Golf Classic: Mr. Raymond Bunquin, Eagle Ridge General Manager, has been at the helm of the rebirth of Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club after it suffered some difficulties some years back. He has since been able to nurse the “eagle” back to health; proof of which is the successful staging of the P3M- ICTSI Eagle Ridge Classic just last April. The unique thing about this Professional Golf Tour stop at Eagle Ridge is that the field was played on three courses; namely, Norman, Faldo and Aoki. The first two days were played in Norman and Faldo while the last two days were played at the Aoki Course. The Dye course was supposed to be the venue for the last two days but was deemed unready for play by the Professional Golf Tour at the last minute. With a gutsy and heart-stopping finish, Tony Lascuna eventually won the P3M-ICTSI Eagle Ridge Classic by one stroke over Marvin Dumandan. Eagle Ridge Norman Course4

Walk the Course:

While it has the distinction of being the easiest of all four golf courses (on paper), the Norman course could not be discounted as a walk in the park. In truth, though, it really IS a walk in the park, but only for the fact that the golf experience is far more enhanced by its landscaping beauty, lush, verdant thickets, and the sheer magnificence of its scenic environs. The Norman course is here to play.

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