Road Trip: The sacred & secular art of Kunisaki
The Kunisaki Peninsula is imbued with a placid spirituality embodied by 1,300 year-old…
Golf has a long history in Japan with the first golf course established in Kobe in 1903 by a British expatriate yearning to play his favourite sport. Ever since the game’s popularity burgeoned amongst the Japanese and now there are over 2,000 courses throughout the country. Although none are famous, Oita Prefecture has 23 courses and most, if not all, provide an enjoyable day’s play over varied terrain in beautiful scenery. Top courses include Beppu Golf Club, Yufukogen Golf Club, Kuju Kogen Golf Club, Oita Sunny Hills Golf Club, and Usuki Country Club.
Besides everything that you would expect at your home golf clubs, the Japanese also add their particularly interesting frisson; from very friendly service, through thoroughly knowledgeable and helpful caddies to fascinating and useful, remote control carts. Simply playing a round on a golf course in Japan provides overseas visitors with a unique experience. The pace is generally more leisurely than many are accustomed to. Courses usually keep groups of players to allotted times and there is no passing of other groups. Lunch is taken in the clubhouse after the first 9 holes before resuming play. Essentially, a round of golf will take up most of the day. In Oita, however, back at the clubhouse may often end with the luxury of an onsen hot spring bath to relax in.
Caddy availability depends on the course. Some courses require their use or give you a choice, while at others they are not available. Whilst caddies usually speak only Japanese, mutual understanding is not a problem as they all know golfing technical terms in English. Besides being great assistants they are also usually good company. Unusually perhaps when compared with much of the rest of the world, caddies in Japan are invariably female.
In Oita, spring, autumn and most of winter are the most comfortable seasons to play in. However, courses in kogen highland areas are reasonably comfortable during the humid summer months.
In general, it is possible to book a round at any of Oita’s courses especially on weekdays. If you have a Japanese speaker to hand, this is most conveniently done using local online booking services such as Rakuten Gora and GDO. Green fees are usually between JPY5,000~ JPY15,000 and more expensive at weekends and on public holidays. Lunch and refreshments are not usually included in these fees.