What are the best courses in the land of the rising sun? Let's take a look here.

The Best Golf Courses In Japan

A country that has produced some quality golfers in the men’s and women’s game, Japan probably does not get that much recognition in terms of its golf courses.

Given the Olympic Games is heading there in 2021, we have looked to rectify that somewhat by taking a look at some of the best golf courses in the land of the rising sun.

Hirono

Often called the Pine Valley of Japan, Hirono is believed to be the best golf course in Japan and the finest work by C.H. Alison.

The design is spectacular thanks to the hilly pine forest dissected by gulley’s, valleys and the occasional green complex perched on top of a ridge.

Kawana (Fuji)

This very pretty part of south Japan hugs the coast, with Kawana enjoying splendid elevated views out over the Pacific. The Fuji course came after the original Oshima course and opened in 1936. It is the handiwork of Charles Alison, a close associate of Harry Colt.

Yokohama (West)

Founded in 1960, Yokohama Country Club has two courses, the East and West, with the latter being of higher quality. Architect Takeo Aiyama designed both and the West would go on to host several professional tournaments, such as the 1978 Japan Open which was one of Seve Ballesteros’ first wins as a professional. Architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have been tasked with renovating the course.

Naruo

Naruo is one of the oldest courses in Japan. It was founded in 1920 but it was 11 years later that it became more prominent with C.H. Alison working on it. Naruo is famed for its small greens and irregular shaped bunkers.

Oarai

Oarai is located right on the shores of the Pacific to the North-east of Tokyo and despite having ample trees on site the winds can occasionally howl through the course to drastically affect scoring.

It was designed by Seiichi Inoue and opened in 1953.

Abiko

View this post on Instagram

Masterpiece golf course, designed by Rokuro Akanishi, who was member of Princeton University’s golf club. Renovated by Brian Silva #golf #beautifulgolfcourses #golfcoursearchitecture #briansilva #princeton #princetonuniversity #abikogolfclub #instagolf #ゴルフ #我孫子ゴルフ倶楽部 #赤星六郎

A post shared by Kenichiro (@kenoda610) on

Founded in 1930, the Second World War drastically affected the course as much of the land was handed over to farming and an air defence position was erected on the 13th hole too.

It was then rebuilt and has had several restoration projects on it, the latest of which was by Brian Silva in 2012.

Koga

Originally a rudimentary nine-hole course, Koga was then extended to 18-holes in 1957 by Osamu Ueda.

It is an incredibly tough test of golf as shown by the scores posted at professional tournaments played there.

In 2019 it hosted the Japan Open for the third time and the winning score was +1 posted by Chan Kim.

Tokyo

Tokyo Golf Club was founded in 1913 but only moved to its current site after two relocations. The current layout was designed by Komyo Ohtani who studied in England and was a huge fan of the sand belt courses situated in the Surrey region.

This influence can be found in the design which has stood the test of time for decades. Gil Hanse was brought in to do renovations recently.

Kasumigaseki (East and West)

If we’re taking a world tour, then certainly we should make a stop at the course that will play host to the next Olympic golf competition.

The East is preferred by many of the members and was opened in 1929. It was designed by Kinya Fujita and Shiro Akaboshi. It is the East that will host the Olympic competition in 2021.

The West opened for play in 1932 and was designed by Selichi Inoue with Fujita once again involved.  

Both are attractive and established tracks with pine-lined fairways leading to fast, yet receptive, greens. Both are strategically demanding layouts with water hazards and the encroaching trees asking for precise placement from the tee.

Ono

Another Osamu Ueda creation is Ono Golf Club which is often regarded as the sister course to Hirono.

It is a lovely wooded course that has change in elevation and numerous ponds that come into play in spectacular fashion. For example the final two holes are fitting closing holes for the round.

Don’t forget to follow Golf Monthly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more course content.