If you’re on a business trip to Japan, chances are, you’ll be playing a round or two of golf, whether you know how to play or not. If you’re a newbie to the game though, don’t worry, English is widely spoken, and many of the courses even offer golfing lessons from English-speaking pros. The game is immensely popular in the country, with over 2,000 golf courses as well as hundreds of driving ranges. The courses tend to be more affordable than they were in the past in Japan. When you make a good shot, you can impress your Japanese colleagues by shouting “Yoshaa!” which is an expression that indicates excitement over something done well. If you’re from Texas, you might say “Yee-haw!” It means the same thing.
Golfing Customs in Japan
Japanese golf courses are casual and relaxed, and the game is usually played slower than in America. Plan to spend the entire day. It is customary to stop and have lunch after the first nine holes, and usually, the valet will move your golf cart up to the tenth tee-off spot for you while you’re enjoying your meal. It’s also customary to use a caddy when playing; caddies are typically female.
You’ll find that most Japanese golf courses are very unique in design. The focus is on cultivating a natural, organic appearance, but make no mistake, the greenskeeper is hard at work making sure that even the smallest detail is not out of place. These are some of the most scrupulously maintained golf courses in the world, and a delight to play on.
In the larger cities, golf courses may not take the form of full-out resorts, but if you want the full treatment, it’s not hard to find a good golf resort complete with restaurants, spas, massage treatments, and elegant hotels. The Belle View Nagao near Mount Fuji in the Shizuoka prefecture is one such place. What better way to start your golfing vacation than to enjoy a game while enjoying the scenic view of one of the most majestic mountains in the world! It’s a great way to get away from the big city, but at the same time, Belle View can be easily reached from Tokyo by bus or train. It’s obvious that the Japanese love golf, because as you drive up to Belle View, you may also see neighboring Gotemba Kogen Golf Resort. Stay overnight and play both courses for a complete golf experience. Gotemba is a wonderful hillside course with perfect scenery. And in the unlikely event you get tired of golf, there’s plenty of other things nearby to keep you busy, including a very nice microbrewery where you can sample some of the local suds, excellent shopping venues, and The Fuji Speedway.
Wherever you go in Japan, it won’t be hard to find a course; and if you want more, there are plenty of stellar resorts for a perfect weekend getaway.