Golf cour­ses in this Ja­pa­nese city

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WHERE 120km south of Tokyo (one hour by bul­let train, plus a 15-minute minibus ride).

WHY e Kawana’s rst course, Oshima, opened in the 1920s. en fol­lowed a visit from revered course ar­chi­tect CH Al­li­son. Stay­ing at the Kawana Ho­tel, he per­suaded An­glophile owner Baron Kishichiro Okura to cre­ate the Fuji Course, named a er the moun­tain seen from the 11th fair­way. is course, laid out through ma­ture park­land with changes of el­e­va­tion and deep bunkers, opened in 1936. e open­ing tee shot is steeply down­hill, beg­ging the ques­tion, “what comes next?”. e an­swer is a gru­elling three-hole climb. A er the half­way house – a com­pul­sory 15-minute stop – fair­ways cross a plateau to­wards the nish­ing stretch along spec­tac­u­lar cli s.

e 11th is the long­est hole, while the 15th, which slopes down to­wards the shore, is the most dra­matic. Some holes have robot carts to carry play­ers up steep in­clines, a taste of the au­to­ma­tion to come.

PRICE Fuji: week­days ¥26,000 (`16,002), week­ends ¥34,000 (`20,926), play fee in­cludes cad­die and range balls. Oshima: week­days ¥12,300 (`7,570), in­cludes buggy with GPS and range balls; week­ends ¥14,300 (`8,801). Club hire ¥6,480 (`3,988), Ja­pa­nese brands.

HOURS Fuji: stay-and-play tee times 8-10:30am. Oshima: vis­i­tors any time from 8am un­til sun­set.

FA­CIL­I­TIES Fuji: 18 holes, 6,701 yards par 72; Oshima, 5,711 yards par 70. No out­door prac­tice area. Un­der­ground elec­tronic driv­ing range. Putting green.

MAX HAND­I­CAP 24 FOOD AND LEISURE e Kawana Ho­tel, built in the 1920s, has 100 rooms and was stayed in by hon­ey­moon­ers Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and Joe DiMag­gio. Not all rooms are non-smok­ing, so re­serve ahead. ere are two grass ten­nis courts, swim­ming pools, and bil­liard and mahjong rooms. e restau­rant serves sashimi and sushi.

CON­TACT 1,459, Kawana, Ito-shi, Shizuoka, 414-0044; +81 557 45 1111; prince­ho­tels.com


WHERE 40km north of Tokyo (35 min­utes from Kan-Etsu/Ken-O ex­press­way).

WHY The most likely way to get into this pri­vate club, the 2020 Olympic course, is through an in­vi­ta­tion from a mem­ber. To stage the event, the club was pres­sured into be­ing open to women mem­bers in March 2017.

The KCC was es­tab­lished in 1929 with the East Course and re­designed in 1930 by CH Al­li­son. His se­cret de­sign weapon was a cav­ernous bunker, rep­re­sented at the par 3 10th on Kasumigaseki East. He also pro­vided in­put for the West Course.

In that era, cour­ses rou­tinely had twin greens, with dif­fer­ent grass for win­ter and sum­mer – a fea­ture con­sid­ered out­dated now that bent grass can cope with cli­matic va­garies. Part of the brief for golf course ar­chi­tect, Tom Fazio and son Lo­gan, the US team re­fash­ion­ing the East for the Olympics, is to elim­i­nate the twingreen sys­tem. In other re­spects, they re­main true to tra­di­tion, length­en­ing and open­ing up the fair­ways and en­hanc­ing the bunkers – with­out adding gim­micky wa­ter fea­tures to ex­ist­ing lakes and streams.

PRICE Week­days ¥27,000 (`16,617), week­ends/hol­i­days ¥31,000 (`19,079). HOURS 7:30am to sun­set. Closed Mon­day.

FA­CIL­I­TIES East Course (2020 Sum­mer Olympics) 18 holes, 7,466 yards par 71; West Course 18 holes, 7,117 yards par 73. 250 yard range, five short-game prac­tice greens and putting greens. Five pros of­fer­ing tu­ition. Club hire not avail­able. MAX HAND­I­CAP 20 (cer­tifi­cate not re­quested, but best to take a copy).

FOOD AND LEISURE Un­der­stated lux­ury marks a low-rise club­house in a cir­cle of pines, which serves qual­ity Ja­pa­nese food and has a bar/ter­race where busi­ness­peo­ple can be seen mak­ing deals af­ter their rounds.

CON­TACT 3398, Kasa­hata, Kawa­goe-shi, Saitama 350-1175; +81 492 31 2181; ka­sum­i­gase­kicc.or.jp


WHERE 33km north of Tokyo,

45 min­utes from the start of the Kan-Etsu ex­press­way.

WHY In­spired by a visit to the USA, the first Ja­pa­nese-de­signed course was cre­ated by golf course ar­chi­tect Mit­suaki Otani, and opened near Tokyo as a six-holer in 1913. This was the start of a tu­mul­tuous his­tory, which in­cluded three changes of venue and req­ui­si­tion, first by the Im­pe­rial Ja­pa­nese Army and then by the US Army at the end of World War II. The club set­tled into its cur­rent lo­ca­tion in 1956 and is now an oa­sis in a very ur­ban world. As with many Ja­pa­nese cour­ses, the Al­li­son fac­tor can be clearly seen in the de­mand­ing bunker­ing and ap­proach shots that re­quire guile rather than strength to be suc­cess­ful. Later in­flu­ences on the de­sign in­clude the UK’s Sun­ning­dale and Went­worth, bring­ing a touch of Sur­rey heath­land to the Ja­pa­nese cap­i­tal. As a prized venue for the Ja­pa­nese Open, the lay­out was re­fur­bished in 2010 by Gil­bert Hanse, the ar­chi­tect of the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro.

PRICE Week­days ¥29,000 (`17,848), week­ends ¥33,500 (`20,618), with a com­pul­sory cad­die. HOURS 7am-6:30pm. Closed Mon­day.


FA­CIL­I­TIES 18-hole course, 6,904 yards par 72, prac­tice area, putting green. Club hire not avail­able.

FOOD AND LEISURE The club cel­e­brated its 50th an­niver­sary in 1963 in style with the ad­di­tion of an el­e­gant yet rustic club­house de­signed by dis­tin­guished ar­chi­tect An­thony Raymond. Set among de­cid­u­ous trees, it has a long ter­race over­look­ing the course – a re­lax­ing venue for 19th hole anal­y­sis.

CON­TACT 1,984, Kashi­wabara, Sayama, Saitama 350-1335; +81 4 2953 9111; tokyo­golf­club.jp


WHERE 75km south­west of Tokyo (72 min­utes by train plus 15 min­utes by bus).

WHY With its 50th birth­day ap­proach­ing in 2019, Lakewood is one of the most pop­u­lar golf day trips from Tokyo. Vis­i­tors love the course, the fa­cil­i­ties, meals in the club­houses and the dra­matic set­ting between Mount Fuji and Mount Hakone. In spring on the West Course, the more chal­leng­ing of the two, the open­ing tee shot onto a fair­way lined with cherry blos­soms is noth­ing short of daz­zling. The course re­wards in­tel­li­gence over power, with changes in el­e­va­tion and abun­dant wa­ter fea­tures; the most dra­matic is the four-tier wa­ter­fall at the sig­na­ture 4th. The East is marginally more spec­tac­u­lar. The 1st sets the tone with a lake to the left and bunker­ing on both sides of a rel­a­tively gen­er­ous fair­way, fol­lowed by a blind dog­leg ap­proach shot. The course asks tac­ti­cal ques­tions as it me­an­ders through the for­est, cul­mi­nat­ing in a nail­bit­ing, risk-re­ward de­ci­sion over wa­ter to a three-tiered green at the par 5 18th.

PRICE Week­days ¥25,150 (`15,479), Satur­day ¥40,150 (`24,711), Sun­day/hol­i­days ¥37,150 (`22,864); green fees in­clude cad­die and buggy.

HOURS 7am to sun­set.

MAX HAND­I­CAP 36, cer­tifi­cate not re­quired. FA­CIL­I­TIES West Course: 18 holes, 6,554 yards par 72. East Course: 18 holes, 6,524 yards par 72. 19-stall cov­ered driv­ing range (7am-10:45am), prac­tice bunker, bent grass putting greens.

FOOD AND LEISURE The main West club­house has guest locker rooms with on­sen ( Ja­pa­nese baths), show­ers and mas­sage chairs. Break­fast and lunch are served in the Cafe, while Dinac, the restau­rant on the sec­ond floor, of­fers an in­ter­na­tional menu. Ko­hantei, the club­house for the East course, serves sea­sonal food at its restau­rants. CON­TACT 169 Kuroiwa, Oiso, Naka, Kana­gawa 259-0105, +81 4 637 2115, lake-wood.co.jp

LEFT TO RIGHT: Tokyo city; and Kawana Ho­tel

FROM FAR LEFT: Kasumigaseki Coun­try Club seen from the green; and from the air; Tokyo Golf Club

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