It was a beautiful Friday morning last April 22 for golf as we drove down to Orchard Golf and Country Club in Dasmarinas, Cavite for the American Chamber ChariTee Golf Tournament- Swing for a Cause!
The American Chamber Foundation Philippines serves as a catalyst in encouraging the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Inc. member companies to contributing to the civic and economic development of the Philippines. Through ChariTee events, they are able to raise funds and awareness for the young, education hungry, and underprivileged youth of our nation.
At about 6am we reached the Orchard Club gates, and one could not help but be impressed by the grandeur of the grounds. The drive from the entrance gate to Clubhouse was so scenic, with grand sweeping green landscapes with beautiful water elements and buildings.
It was apparent we were just on time as we drove up to the line of various big dark SUVs, popular with AmCham members and guests apparently, waiting patiently to drop off golf clubs. The golf club drop off was so efficient with the head Caddy taking care of the dismount and promptly handing us the claim stub for our golf bags.
From the club drop off, the parking was an easy walk to the main lobby which along the way, the banners of the major sponsors stood proudly on the walls of the clubhouse frontage.
The registration table was setup beautifully and efficiently right upon entering the main lobby and on display were the flights so we could easily meet our new friends for the day.
It only took about 5 minutes to get to the first stop in the registration process, which was to give our names and ID verification along with our golf club stubs.
Once that was verified, we moved quickly along the registration table to the Mulligan purchase station, where we loaded up on the 200 php Mulligans in anticipation for a tough course.
The last station was the raffle purchase where 1000php got you six raffle tickets, which we did avail as well.
On the way out of the registration, they kept our hands full as we were given a goodie bag and umbrella. We then were directed to the locker rooms.
The tournament and club had graciously allocated one of the locker rooms to the tournament, and upon entering, the host provided us with locker keys and we walked into the spacious and well kept locker area. We were able to change into our golf shoes and also go through the goodie bag, which conveniently had Gatorade and vanilla biscuits which we brought along with us.
From there, we headed back to the main lobby for a nice breakfast of sunny side up eggs, grilled spam and bangus fish, various sausages and garlic rice. The fresh hot coffee was a welcome edition and as we started tucking in at about 6:45am.
The program started with welcoming comments from the AmCham organizers who went over the goal of AmCham Charity Golf Tournament.
The speaker encouraged us that we weren’t only playing for our enjoyment, but also for the benefit of those in need. With the financial support raised through the Tournament, the Foundation will continue to assist poor but deserving Filipino youth, not only with Scholarship Programs, but also with Psychosocial Programs.
He then went on to explain the mechanics of the golf tournament using the System 36 Format. From there, we wrapped up breakfast and headed over to our golf carts to meet our caddies and get on our way!
Unfortunately for us, we did not get time to practice, but we did see some early birds getting some putting practice in!
As we walked down the long line of neatly organized golf carts, we got to our 7B golf cart and I met my caddy Dang, who had been with the Orchard Golf Course for about 20 years.
We shared some jokes. I told her that maybe I should drive the cart and let her play the course!
We headed over to Hole 7 to await to ceremonial tee-off complete with a loud gun shot sound, which signaled the start of the tournament at about 7:15am.
It turned out we started with a “Hole in One” game, which we joked was quite tough as the first hole played and us having just met.
Also, we were playing from the Blue markers, so it was a good 180 yards on this Hole 7 to the pin. While any Par 3 is difficult, the distance from the Blue markers is really what made this challenge difficult, especially as our first hole!
But we did our best and carried on to the the next hole, just barely missing par.
Next up was a Par 4 Drive and Pitch hole, where one is to make a solid Drive shot, and follow up with a Pitch to get onto the green. While in theory, this methodology makes sense, the accuracy and contact is critical on that first drive in order to get you in good position to pitch onto the green. Needless to say, we were still warming up so it took us more than 2 strokes to get onto the green!
The next hole had the friendly fellows from Hole Sponsor GNC, the nutritional supplies company. They handed out coupons as well as offered us a multivitamin drink and didn’t miss out on the opportunity to allow the players to purchase items at a special discounted price!
We took the vitamin drink gladly but passed on the vitamins in order to focus on our game.
A welcome sight at the next hole was the massage chairs and complimentary beverages.
While it was a bit early to crack open a San Miguel Pale Pilsen beer, we all decided it would be good for the nerves and also grabbed some water.
The other great treat was the free massage services, to ease tight muscles and maybe just to loosen up our bodies so we could perform better.
We had a blast through the next few holes and came across the Longest Drive. By then, we were all warmed up and ready to take a serious effort with our drivers. Alas, the nerves and over muscling of our drives sent us astray with the mean hook of our swings taking us off the fairways.
The course was about as difficult as we had remembered, with long fairways, multiple sand traps, and menacing water hazards. That being said, our caddies were quite helpful in guiding us along the course with dogleg warnings, accurate guidance and yardage, as well as spot-on club suggestions. We got to the Hole sponsored Avis hole and were treated to a lovely view.
As we wrapped up the 18 holes, we all had a blast together but were glad to finish as it was definitely heating up! We took our final pictures together and headed back to the clubhouse.
After cleaning up in the locker room, we headed up to the nicely designed hall where our delicious lunch was served. We couldn’t help but notice the food in the back and it smelled pretty good. There was a nice spread of rice, chicken, fish and vegetables which went well with the pumpkin soup.
As we were halfway through our meal, the announcements started for the prizes and boy were there a ton!
It was nice that the organizers started with ladies first, awarding the best women’s score which would have put most men to shame with a score of 77!
There were various raffle prizes drawn with a wonderful array of prizes. The raffle tickets were stored in a rotating drum from which the organizer reached into to grab the lucky winners!
From bottles of wine to putters, I could not believe my luck when I got the putter. We were actually quite tired from the early start and hot weather, but when you hear your name at a raffle, that perks you right up!
The grand prize of the event was from the Gold Sponsor of the tournament Delta Airlines. The winner of the Delta grand prize got a free round trip ticket to anywhere in the US! Lucky Guy.
Overall, this was a smoothly run tournament that led to a lovely day on the golf course. Kudos to the American Chamber and the Foundation for putting on this amazing event for the benefit of the Foundation Scholars. The Orchard Golf & Country Club is an absolutely stunning course and I would highly recommend any golfer to give it a swing!
Special thanks to all of the sponsors of this event!