The Popularity of Golf in Japan – Tips and Trivia

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Golf is not a popular sport in Brazil, but in Japan it deserves great prominence. In this article, we are going to talk a little about the influence and popularity of golf in Japan, its history, curiosities and tips for those who want to know the sport.

Japan is the second largest golf market in the world after the United States. There are around 10 million golfers in Japan and around 2450 golf courses. The first golf course in Japan opened at Rokkosan in Hyogo Prefecture in 1901.

The sport came to the fore when Torakichi Nakamura won the Canadian Cup in 1957, decades later golf became more influential, club numbers grew and currently exceeds 2000.

Unfortunately due to the crisis, several fields and clubs closed. Fortunately this has made the sport more accessible to ordinary people. Despite this, Golf receives a lot of prominence in the media and in the lives of the Japanese.

The popularity of golf in Japan - tips and trivia

How do the Japanese play golf in Japan?

Japanese golfers have to drive several hours to reach each course. When they get there, they play slowly, an average of 5 hours per game. In other words, a round of golf in Japan can last all day. 

This is different from the Americans, who, if they want to, can make 18 holes in 3 hours. Some golf courses in Japan have robots automatics like caddies. They are radio controlled and move golf bags around the course.

Some courses have escalators on steep slopes. Many of the caddies in Japan are women wearing blue uniforms and towels with giant caps on their heads. Driving ranges in Japan are often multi-story.

Please note that most courses require a dress code where players must wear appropriate golf clothing. It is common to find a yellow flag on the fairway about 230 meters from the tee (starting point).

Additional flags are placed to mark the next move if you fall into the Out of bounds. Another common local rule is the black and yellow striped stakes that are used to mark an off-limits area. Different from out of bounds, the penalty is just one stroke with the next stroke from where the ball crossed the marker line.

The popularity of golf in Japan - tips and trivia

How much does it cost to play golf in Japan?

Golf is no longer a cheap sport in the West, in Japan it is even more expensive because land there is expensive and the courses take up a lot of space. In the 1980s, a round used to cost 10 times more than in the United States.

Nowadays playing golf in Japan is much cheaper, expensive golf clubs in Japan have closed down because of debt. Currently there are only 2 types of clubs, the high level ones that survived and the normal, semi-public ones of low cost.

Current rate for playing golf in Japan starts from 70$. In addition to this fee, there are fees for caddy, meals, transport and not counting the equipment. If you are a visitor, your golf day can cost up to 300$. We recommend having knowledge of the Japanese language, because it is necessary to make a reservation. Only a few fields permitem English and online bookings.

In addition to the numerous golf courses, there are hundreds of driving ranges found throughout the country for those who just want to practice golf without having to spend long hours on the course. These places are cheap and usually only charge 10 yen per ball.

The popularity of golf in Japan - tips and trivia

Fun facts about golf in Japan

  • In 2010, a golfer in Sendai burned 900 square meters of course when he hit a shot that generated a spark and caused a fire in extremely dry grass;
  • Golf has become so popular in Japan that there are religious cults dedicated to the sport. A Buddhist monk in the Zenshoji time of Tokyo, erected a statue with the Goddess of mercy holding a club and a ball in his hand, many golfers gather in time to pray;
  • The Perfect Liberty Association (PL) is a religious cult that preaches a credo of “life is art” and believes that problems can be solved by mass pilgrimages and playing golf;
  • In 2001, due to the economic bubble, about 90% of the 2,400 golf clubs were in debt. 1,700 of them were practically bankrupt. By 2005 around 630 golf courses had closed. Some have become resorts and solar-generating sites;

Playing golf in Japan can be a fun experience! There are always events with the aim of teaching and promoting the sport. Have you ever had the chance to play golf in Japan? Or even elsewhere?

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