Graeme Marsh hasnít designed many golf courses in Europe, but I have heard some very good reports about his work in Asia so I was looking forward to my first taste of teeing it up on one of his designs. Graeme has won tournaments all over the world including 14 on the European Tour and standing on the first tee I had to smile. Boracay is a tourist island with some beautiful white sand beaches and resort courses which usually tend to be designed with wide fairways with not too much trouble. However, Mr Marsh has put in a high-backed bunker some 150-yards off the tee on this 531-yard par 5 opening hole, an opening salvo to any would be tourist in flip-flops and shorts.
There are also two deep bunkers protecting the corner of the dogleg left. There is water short of the very small green that is surrounded by bunkers which also run down the left-hand side of the fairway. Friends, this is no resort course, this is a test Ė and you need to bring your A-game.
The red sand bunkers are a feature of this course along with the palm trees that line the fairways and gently sway in the wind. The manicuring and shaping of the course are perfect and so far, I have hit both fairways before I manage to put my tee shot in the sand at the 171-yard, par 3, 3rd hole, which has water running down the right.
Top: Sunrise over Fairway & Bluewater. Above LtoR: 4th, 16th holes and aerial view
I am smiling openly as I plot my way around the course. From the risk and reward second shot on the par 5, 502-yard, 6th hole with water running in front of the green that is just in range if you get good drive away, water running down the left of the 8th, the second par 3 on the front nine and the water and bunkering protecting the left and right side of the fairway on the 9th, you get everything you could hope for on the opening nine holes.
I would suggest a buggy as it would be a very long walk between the 9th and 10th holes, but the back nine opens up with another par 5, this one measuring 526-yards played from an elevated tee which has some wonderful sea views behind it. The sea comes back into view on the dogleg left par 4, 12th hole, which again has a deep bunker protecting the corner of the dogleg.
For the big hitters the 13th is driveable at 322-yards but there are two deep bunkers on the front right protecting the green that lays across you and has another bunker back left. The last of the par 3s comes at the 16th and is played from an elevated tee that has some stunning views over the course with the ocean as a backdrop and has a green that is surrounded by bunkers.
The 18th is a fitting finale to the course and is played through a valley, but for the longer hitters there are some bunkers waiting to catch any wayward shots. As I chip and putt for a final par I look back up the fairway, itís been a tough challenge and I have to say I am more than happy with my 77 playing to my handicap especially as it was my first look at the course.
They say first impressions count and I had the feeling this was going to be a tough challenge. There are four teeing option and each will test your golf game, but I am sure that, like me, you'll enjoy every minute of playing this Graeme Marsh design.
Above: Palms and bunkers protect the par 4, 2nd green.