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Love Letter from the Philippines

One woman’s story of how she fell in love with the sport

Janice driving a golf cart
The author posing for a photo at the start of her round

The first time I ever saw a golf course in person was in February 2015 — It was love at first sight. I still have a vivid memory of that breath-taking view – the picturesque scenery of the bright green grass carpeting a long stretch of fairway, with a splendid backdrop of the Mount Malarayat. I was not going to play golf at that time. I didn’t even know the spelling of “golf” as my long-time partner, Larry would jokingly say. He just brought me to the clubhouse for lunch. I totally had no idea about the game, all I knew back then, was that this sport is only for the rich people in my country, the Philippines. And I was an ordinary public school teacher. I didn’t even know a close friend, colleague, or neighbor who was a golfer.

Golf course and Club House
Mount Malarayat Golf and Country Club - the author's home and favourite course in the Philippines

When we left the clubhouse, I felt something in my heart giggle with the idea in my mind of me wearing a golf skirt and driving the golf cart – the kind I saw as I looked over the golf course while enjoying the delightful dishes served to us. What a lovely experience it would be spending the day, breathing fresh air, and enjoying the serene view of the pine trees and blue skies with your favorite person. That idea just kept on coming back to me, since then.

But it was only in 2019, when I really got the chance to realize my “dream”, as Larry had to go golfing for a company mini- tournament. I think I was too obvious in showing my interest to play too, so he would tag me along to the driving range and introduced me to the game. He bought me everything I needed to get started. A second-hand golf set, a pair of shoes, gloves, cap and even my very first golf pants and shirt. How lucky could I get having a supportive golf partner.

Janice gripping her driver
Hybrid from the fairway - taking lessons has helped Janice to enjoy her golf much quicker and is now paying off as she recently posted her first ever score in the 80's. Like all golfers everywhere, she is determined to do even better.

I was introduced to my very first coach, a teaching “pro” at a driving range in Manila, who taught me the basics. At first, I found the repetitive swinging exhausting. It was really hard to hit the ball the way my coach wanted me to. I wasn’t really a sporty person. Growing up, until the age of 37, I never really participated in any sporting event. But all those feeling of tiredness and frustrations about my slow-paced improvement in my tutorial sessions just faded away when I first stepped on the fairway and completed my first round of 18-holes in April 2019. It was the most fulfilling experience I had for quite some time, and the happiness I felt was something I couldn’t explain. I knew at that time, I wanted to play better.

And that started my amazing journey and love for golf. Never have I imagined a woman like me could fall in love with this sport.

I say it’s addicting. Funny that I am always counting the hours until it’s weekend so I can play again. I find myself doing practice swings in between my breaks from classes, buying a lot of golf apparel online, or watching YouTube tutorials. I also read articles about the famous golfers in the Philippines and abroad.; I joined Facebook groups of Pinoy golfers and other golf-related pages. Everything related to golf — I’m in!

Janice sporting a nice outfit for golf
With a regular playing group, Janice finds herself counting the hours down to her next tee-time

What I love about golf is that it drives you crazy in a positive way. That you won’t stop until you are satisfied with how you’ve played. But it’s crazy, it never happens. Every game is different. Sometimes you are at your best. The next game you are at your worst. But that’s what I like about golf. It challenges my patience and determination. The first time I broke 100, I felt like I won the lottery. I thought I could never be any happier. But when I “accidentally’ scored 84, I felt I could face Yuka Saso anytime. But of course, I knew golf has full of surprises, and until now I’m surprised that I haven’t broken 90 since.

Another thing that is amazing about golf is that it’s something I could enjoy even after retirement; something I will still enjoy no matter how high my handicap would be. I can see myself still enjoying the moments in the fairway with the same person. It will always feel like the first time.

Janice's iron shot
Playing a sidehill lie - one of the more difficult shots in golf

My friends would look up to me and admire me and say, I am the only friend they have or only person they know who plays golf. How I wish everyone could have the opportunity to experience this wonderful world of golf. But in the province where I live, I must travel almost two hours just to reach the nearest golf course.

This pandemic, though a really difficult time for us Filipinos, at least I could say it has been a chance for me to spend more time in the fairways. Luckily, golf courses were open while schools are not.

For all we know, the lockdowns that seemed endless has brought about a lot of stress and depression among people whose lives changed dramatically.

Golf, indeed, is a saviour in a way that we could forget even for just a few hours, the problems of the world. Amidst the seemingly hopeless situation, golf diverts our energy to something worthy and productive.

Furthermore, golf is something I find so empowering and challenging. I feel privileged to be playing one of the best golf courses in Asia, my home course, Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club. I discovered that there is more to golf than a person’s status in the society. Though we cannot deny the fact that this is an expensive hobby in the Philippines. It is also true, that golf gives you the opportunity to meet different people with different personalities, but with genuine characters. I think one of the most rewarding aspects of being a golfer in our country is that aside from the enjoyment you get from the game you also get to help the caddies who work for you in the fairways, developing sincere camaraderie among the people we meet in the golf club.

Nowadays, since lockdown, it is wonderful to see young girls, teens or even kids starting to play golf. Inspired by the success of Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan. Golf is becoming a popular sport even among the regular people in the Philippines. A good sign that golf, is after all, a sport for anyone. All you have to do is to try and discover your potential and love for this amazing game.

Janice preparing to start a tik tok dance routine
Janice has become a minor celebrity with her "Tik Tok" dance skits. When she runs into a wait on the tee box, she will occasionally record a dance skit to pass the time. It has made Janice a celebrity with her Facebook group - Pinoygolfers (a group dedicated to golf in the Philippines.

More than 2 years of playing golf, have made a big difference in my life. The challenges and fun I found in golf is something satisfying and fulfilling. I have never joined a tournament yet, and that’s what I am excited about. I can’t wait to challenge myself to compete against others and realize if I am doing good or how much improvement I must do.

I fall in love with this game more and more each day. I have always been a fan of Arnold Palmer’s quote when he said that:

“Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated. It satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt mankind has ever invented.”

True enough, I am sure that golf is the game I want to grow old with and will never get tired of trying to be better every game – after all, Golf isn't just my favorite hobby. It has become my passion.


Janice M. Daef calls Lucena City home, where she is a highschool teacher. She recently completed her Doctorate degree in English (Phd.). Her favourite players include Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan. She is also a member of the "Pinoygolfers" Facebook Group where she occasionally demonstrates her joy for the sport with her Tik Tok dance moves from the golf course.


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