Friday, October 10, 2008

Golf in Japan - Arrival

Well, here I am.

I made it to Japan. Fourteen and half hours and thirteen time zones later, I arrived at Narita airport in Tokyo. Tokyo is the largest metropolitan area in the world - with 35.5 million people. The next three largest are significantly smaller: Mexico City 19.2 million, Mumbai 18.8 million and New York 18.6 million.

Japan is a golf obsessed country. It has 2,300 courses, which is more courses than Scotland. I am looking forward to the trip. According to Links Magazine it is customary in Japan to stop for a full lunch, hot-springs immersion and an hour-long massage after nine holes. Bring it on!

We are past tsuyu (the rainy season), so hopefully the weather will cooperate with us. Time permitting, I also hope to rise early one morning and see Tsukiji , the world's biggest fish market. Perhaps some Sumo wrestling, and hopefully we'll have time to catch a Japanese baseball game.

Elevated expressway through Tokyo

The first course built in Japan was the Rokko golf club in 1901, near Kobe. In 1930, Joe Kirkwood and Walter Hagen went to Japan at the invitation of the Japan Golf Association and played ten exhibition matches. After their visit, golf started to take off, with thirty courses built in the next few years.

Many of the courses in Japan have two sets of greens because the summers are so hot and humid, the idea is to lessen the wear on just one set of greens. Japan is a small country with a large population, a lot of the land is steep mountainsides unsuitable for living or golf. There is a law against converting farmland to golf courses.

One name I have already become familiar with is C.H. Alison, a British golf course architect who visited Japan in the 1930s and was responsible for almost all the world-ranked courses in the country.

My course lineup includes:

Hirono Golf Club (ranked # 35) - Japan's most distinguished golf club
Naruo Golf Club (ranked #75) - Japan's Hidden Gem
The Kawana Fuji course (ranked #80) - Japan's Pebble Beach
Tokyo Golf Club - The most prestigious club in Tokyo

I'm eager to expand my vocabulary, my waistline and my golf repertoire. Get the Kobe beef ready and keep the Sapporo chilled. The American Embassy has warned the Japanese people - for the next week - bring the women and children indoors. The complete jackass gaijin (foreigner) has arrived.

I will post frequently to keep you up to date.

1 comment:

精神年齢 said...