TOPTravelThe Kyoto Golf Vacation You Didn’t Know You Needed

The Kyoto Golf Vacation You Didn’t Know You Needed

A game of golf may be the best way to enjoy Kyoto Prefecture's unique geographies

By Taylor Stewart

Of course Kyoto, with an old-world image counter to Tokyo’s ultra-modern reputation, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. But historical sightseeing, ambling temples and gardens and exploring the narrow stone streets of Higashiyama are not the only ways of experiencing and absorbing the culture. If you prefer a more leisurely or simply uncommon course, consider golfing your way through Kyoto. 

While the city is seen as a center of culture, the prefecture is home to beautiful and varied geographies that, really, have laid the foundation of a Kyoto capital culture. By the northern part of Kyoto Prefecture is the Sea of Japan; the central region is forested, nurturing a nature-revering satoyama lifestyle; in the southern part you will see sprawling tea plantations. Within the boundaries of Kyoto Prefecture, there are nearly 30 golf courses, most of which are only 30 minutes to two hours from the capital center. In accordance with the great geographic variety, the views at these golf courses range from mountainous panoramas to maritime prospects.

Hit the Links at Kumihama Country Club

For prime sea views, visit Kumihama Country Club, where the greens touch the water. Not only is the seaside course winding and challenging for the avid golfer, it also offers an unequaled sightseeing opportunity. Its boundary runs along Kumihama Bay, and the third hole traverses the sea, requiring a 140-yard shot over the water for the second leg of the hole. There is also a wooded, mountainous course where the fairways are wide and grand compared to the delightfully precarious paths of a seaside game. 

Sophisticated Accommodations at Hekisui Gyoen

At Hekisui Gyoen you can retire peacefully after treading the Kyoto coastline. Staying here is as much a way to appraise the nature as it is a site of self-care. Bathing in the natural hot springs or visiting the salon, you are surrounded by sea, island hillocks and distant mountains. The rooms too, some with an outdoor bath and private garden, are designed airily, with large windows and much light.

Local fish from the numerous nearby ports are served per your preference, as sashimi, grilled or otherwise. Other dishes include buttered abalone, char-grilled right in front of you; stone-grilled Tajima beef; winter and rock oysters; and impressive Matsuba crab. Conveniently, there is easy access from Hekisui to sightseeing spots like scenic Amanohashidate, the Ine Boathouses (Funaya), the public baths of Kinosaki and historic Izushi. 

Nature, Peace and Golf at Kameoka Country Club

The hilly terrain, the wide fairways and the pastoral scenery of Kameoka Country Club is a golfer’s paradise. Located fairly close to Kyoto city and northern Osaka Prefecture, the course can accommodate both casual golfers and long hitters, all the while offering panoramic views of Kameoka city. This area, deemed the “Kyoto of the forest,” offers numerous other outdoors activities, including river rafting and paragliding; golf is but one way to enjoy the incredible foliate scenes of Kameoka. In the fall and spring, both the country club and nearby natural wonders are particularly pretty.

High-end Hot Springs at Syoenso Inn

After so much activity, another bath is much needed. Despite its proximity to Kyoto city, Syoenso Inn in Kameoka’s Yunohana Onsen is the site of natural hot springs and has a distinct placid, traditional atmosphere. While your surroundings would suggest a detachment from city life, you are nearby such attractions as the Hozu River and The Sagano Romantic train (city trolley car system). The central bath building has two open-air baths and a sauna, as well as spa services. The course meal boasts fresh cuts of fish, purchased every morning at a local market; produce picked at Yunohana; the highly-coveted Matsutake mushrooms; and Tamba beef. As a five-star facility and deemed one of the best ryokan in the country, Syoenso is an ideal conclusion to an idyllic holiday.