22 August 2008

Firm allots $48-M to redevelop Subic golf course

A Korean-Filipino company is now set to pump in some $48 million to re-develop Subic’s 18-hole golf course into an all-weather championship fairways and to provide full-blown country club amenities therein.

According to Benjamin John Defensor, president and chief executive officer of Hanafil Golf & Tour, Inc., the firm’s multi-million development commitments include putting up additional nine holes, constructing a hotel and some villas, and improving the driving range at the Subic Bay Golf and Country Club.

The project is scheduled for completion within six years, he said, adding that the re-development would have to be phased after club members requested that the existing 18 holes be kept open while additional holes are constructed.

“We’re aiming for a full-blown country club concept,” Defensor told newsmen in a press briefing here. “The fairways would have to be reconstructed from scratch and some of the holes would have to be relocated.”

In re-designing the course, Defensor said his company is planning to engage the services of topnotch golf architects like Arnold Palmer or Robert Trent Jones II, who have both designed some of the world’s most exciting courses.

Palmer’s best courses include those at the Bay Hill Club in Orlando, Florida; the Classic Club in Palm Desert, California; and the Four Seasons Resort in Liberia, Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, Jones’s masterpieces include the Spanish Bay Links in Pebble Beach, California; the Prince Course in Kauai, Hawaii; and the Cabo Real Campo de Golf in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

In the same forum, Administrator Armand Arreza of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) revealed that Hanafil’s golf course project is but one of three leisure complexes to be established in the Subic Bay Freeport area within the next few years.

Arreza said the SBMA has also approved a 400-hectare site at Cawag in Subic’s Redondo Peninsula for a golf course and resort project by Neocove, another Korean company, while a third golf links will be established at the Morong area, which is being eyed as a resort and convention complex.

The three golf courses will be located in such a way that they won’t compete with each other, but instead ensure adequate facilities for the growing number of golf enthusiasts and visiting professional players, Arreza said.

The re-development of the Subic Bay golf course came after the SBMA awarded the project to Hanafil in a public bidding earlier this year.

The Subic authority took over the operation of the facility last year after it terminated the lease agreement of the previous operator due to its ballooning debts that ran to some $150 million.

Atty. Von Rodriguez, officer in charge of the SBMA Legal Department, said the Regional Trial Court in Olongapo City has affirmed the validity of the SBMA takeover last year.

The Supreme Court has also upheld in 2000 SBMA’s rights to take over the operation of the golf course when it did so in 1997 due to the failure of the previous operator to honor its development commitments.

Defensor clarified, meanwhile, the firm has retained the services of some 70 workers who were employed by the previous operator and would employ more local workers upon the start of construction and re-development activities. (SBMA Corporate Communications)