Looking to play the best golf courses in Japan? GolfReviewsGuide.com picks out the top courses to play in Japan.
Japan, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, has hot and humid summers. The country doesn’t offer anything tropical, however, Okinawa is one destination where the climate is subtropical.
At almost any time of year, golfers can find courses open somewhere in the country. As a nation in the northern hemisphere, Japan’s summers last from late June to late September.
Our recommendations for golf courses feature historic courses that C. H. Alison designed, many of which have been updated over the years. He was a British-born golf course architect who had a strong influence on design in Japan.
His name will appear multiple times on our shortlist, which includes a resort course and a to popular nine-hole course that is publicly accessible for those that can’t get into the private venues.
Our top picks for the best golf courses in Japan are:
1. Hirono Golf Club
Located in Hyogo, Japan, the Hirono Golf Club course was built in 1932. C.H. Alison was the original designer but Tom Mackenzie and Martin Ebert performed an update in 2019.
A private course, Hirona Golf Club’s venue is of the parkland style and it has come to be known as the “Pine Valley of Japan,” nicknamed so after the legendary American course.
With ravines, sandy terrain, ponds and trees, this course is Alison’s legacy maker. Today, it plays as a par-72 venue at a total length of 7,292 yards.
The course is the lengthiest one to make our list, it features 130 feet of elevation changes, and it covers 300 acres. Clearly, among the best in Japan, this course is also mentioned as one of the best golf courses in all of Asia.
The nearest major city is Kobe, which sits adjacent to Osaka in a heavily urbanized section of Japan.
2. Kawana Hotel Golf Course (The Fuji Course)
A resort course, The Fuji Course is located at the Kawana Hotel in Ito City, Shizuoka, Japan.
The course opened in 1936 and immediately received widespread acclaim from golfing enthusiasts.
It is part of The Prince Golf Resorts, a chain that is affiliated with numerous prestigious and acclaimed golf courses.
A par-72 contest, The Fuji Course could be viewed as being a little on the short side. The 18-hole venue stretches out to 6,701 yards.
Golfers should expect a course that is among the best on the continent. Where Hirono is called the “Pine Valley of Japan,” The Fuji Course is affectionately known as Japan’s Pebble Beach.
Challenges include difficult sloping but patrons will enjoy the views of the open water and one of Japan’s most famous landmarks, Mount Fuji, which can be viewed on the back nine. This is a course that helped cement C.H. Alison’s legacy as a golf course designer in Japan.
The hotel that’s affiliated with the course is an impressive 140-room resort that overlooks the Pacific.
3. Tokyo Golf Club
The Tokyo Golf Club opened at its current location in Saitama, Japan (about 90 minutes from Tokyo’s city center) following the design efforts of Kohmyo Ohtani in 1940.
Gil Hanse performed a redesign in 2010 and today the course plays at a decent length of 7,215 yards and as a par-72.
It is a private club of the parkland/woodland style and one distinguishing feature of this club is that it employs a “two green” feature.
The club alternates the green that is used for each hole on a daily basis. This can enhance the golfing experience for patrons as they face a unique challenge the second time they play.
4. Naruo Golf Club
The Naruo Golf Club enjoyed its centennial in 2020, however, the club went through major updates in the early 1930s.
C.H. Alison was the most famous architect to lend his skills to the course’s development at that time.
Today, the course plays as a par-70 and it is the shortest 18-hole course to make our list at 6,616 yards.
A private course, golfers should expect elevated greens, larger-than-average bunkers of awkward shapes, and a course that demands precision instead of pure power.
As a private course, visitors may need to make a friend at the club in order to play at this venue.
5. Chibana Golf Course
The Chibana Golf Course is a pleasant nine-hole venue that is located on the subtropical island of Okinawa. This is a par-3 course, making the nine holes a par-27.
You may read about this course being stated as a “military course,” however, it is open to the public.
A short length of 2,462 yards, this course promises to be a delightful experience for anyone looking for something that is easily accessible and in a beautiful setting.
Stuart Bell provides insightful analysis of the latest golf equipment and reviews golf gear for GolfReviewsGuide.com. Life goal is to become a scratch golfer!