By NIMROD NL QUINONES
It was hands down the best-ever performance for the Cebu teams and players ever in the Philippine Airlines (PAL) Interclub Golf Tournament as all four teams from the province made it to the podium and several individuals also earned recognition for their feat.
Having covered the PAL Interclub since 1994, I had the opportunity to chronicle the success and failures of the Cebu teams in the annual tournament.
In my early days in the PAL Interclub, it was quite hard to find a good angle for my stories that would highlight the participation of the Cebuanos.
Well, many times I had to be content with writing about how the teams are in the top ten of their category or how they almost made it to the top three.
A few times there were sparks of brilliance, but all that is now part of the storied past as Cebu teams competing in the PAL Interclub are not just a bunch of tourists, but are serious contenders, who are there to carry the pride and honor of their clubs.
Perhaps I am the only person to have played many roles in the PAL Interclub. I started out as being the assistant sports editor receiving the story, which my editor Glenn P. Basubas dictated over the phone. We didn’t have a facsimile machine then so dictation was the only way to get the story through.
Glenn, who passed on several years ago, was an excellent writer and I picked up a lot of lessons from him. In September 1993, I took over as sports editor of The Freeman and had my first trip to the PAL Interclub several months after. By then, we had a fax machine and it was much easier to send stories home.
It was in 1996 when I added another role to what I did in the Interclub as I joined the media tournament for the first time. It was then when started lugging my clubs to every PAL Interclub venue.
I had a few brushes at glory in our own tournament making it as rookie of the year in 1996 and as runner-up in Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon in 2000. I had a few other chances to win, but they just fizzled out on the last day. In 2015, I won my only media tournament title and played again in the tournament only this year.
I think I had achieved then my ultimate goal as a duffer – win the tournament among my colleagues in the industry and survive the thrash-talking and ribbing.
In the year 2000, I also had another milestone in the PAL Interclub when I was named member of the Mercedes Plantation Golf and Country Club team. MPGCC is the first golf club in the town of Medellin, Cebu, the place of birth of my grandfather.
I made it to the team, because they were lacking players and since I was already there, I was an easy choice.
The tournament is five-to-play, four-to-count. I counted on both days playing for Mercedes, but that was only because there were only four of us in the team hehehe…
When the tournament moved back to Cebu in 2001, I was given another chance to play for Mercedes as I was in the team the previous year. Reluctantly I played and since we already had enough players, my score didn’t matter.
When the tournament moved back to Bacolod in 2002, I again found myself taking a new role as I was named team captain of Alta Vista Golf and Country Club. The reason was simple. I was going to be there early for my coverage and with our original team backing out, Alta Vista had to look for volunteer replacements.
With five replacement players seeing action on the first two days, my score of 11 points in the Stableford or PAL Scoring System on day 1, counted for our team total.
On the second day, order was restored as the nine points I made did not count as expected.
Luckily, I have never been asked to do such things again in the succeeding years allowing me to concentrate on my coverage and the media tournament.
In 2013, I again had a milestone in the PAL Interclub being the general manager of Alta Vista Golf and Country Club, which co-hosted the seniors’ tournament.
This year, our club again got the chance to host the PAL Seniors’ Interclub and I attained something else, I got to be part of the ceremonial tee off.
While I may have gone through so many horrors through the years from dealing with water hazards, out of bounds, ravines, and a snake in Rancho Palos Verdes in Davao, my favorite challenge every PAL Interclub is beating the deadline and coming up with a story that the readers can enjoy reading or get something substantial from.
Since I left The Freeman at the end of August 2012, I have written for this website and for a few publications. Now, I write for and edit Island News, a Dumaguete-based weekly.
Writing has been a passion and with the opportunity given this year to write again, I feel complete even if I probably played my worst games in the media tournament due to a lingering shoulder injury.
The PAL Interclub is definitely a coverage that I will always look forward to. The only thing that I did not get to enjoy this year was eating Spam in the media center.