For many people, nothing beats the golf course. Getting away from it all, surrounded by nature (it is not unknown to be playing alongside wild deer, or even monkeys!), in the mountains or by the sea, with a few friends and with time for a few drinks afterwards, it could be the perfect weekend retreat.
What better way to wind down after a tough week at the office than with a round of golf?
In Japan, though, there seem to be a few obstacles. It takes a lot of effort to get out there. You may need to rent a car, book a tee-time and find enough partners who have time for a game.
You might be missing out and, following on from our interview with Momoko Ueda, we want to simplify things.
Grant Prentice, founder of Tokyo-based Golfjin.com, says of his arrival in Japan, “my frustrations with not being able to play real golf very often led me down a fairway which I’m very glad I took.”
That “fairway”, organising events and setting up a website that is helping many foreigners find a game, has proved successful. Here he shares some advice on getting on the course in Japan.
There are hundreds of beautiful golf courses in Japan, many with uniquely breathtaking views and playing the game is truly a pleasure.
Whilst golf used to be universally expensive and exclusive, the industry has seen some major changes recently, making it more affordable for golfers to get a round in – with a little research.
Where to play:
There are about 2,600 golf courses in Japan, ranging from cheaper, riverside courses, right through to super-expensive championship standard courses.
Generally speaking, the closer a golf course is to a central urban area, the more expensive and crowded it will be. If you live in Tokyo, courses that take less than an hour to get to are sometimes twice the price of courses that are between 90 minutes and 2 hours away, so it’s worth travelling a bit.
How to get there:
It’s a big advantage to have a car but it’s also possible to get to many courses on the train. There are a lot which operate shuttle bus services, too. Also, if you have a heavy golf bag, you can send it both ways using one of the major delivery companies. Most convenience stores can arrange this for you for around 2,400 yen.
What to expect:
A grand day out. Getting in 18 holes and being home for lunch is rarely possible in Japan. Thanks to the lengthier journey times, slower pace of play and obligatory lunch break after nine holes, golf here is usually an all-day affair.
Don’t let that put you off, though, as getting out of the city for the day is never a bad thing. After an enjoyable day on the links, there’s nothing better than relaxing in the onsen most self respecting golf clubs have.
Find out more:
For information on courses in English and golf events open to the international community, check out Golfjin.com or Golf-in-Japan.com. For those with some Japanese language skill, tee-times can be reserved at www.golfdigest.co.jp or www.gora.golf.rakuten.co.jp.