Golf in Shizuoka
With a stable year-round climate, long stretches of dramatic coastline and stunning views of the majestic Mt Fuji, golf in Shizuoka provides an amazing variety of different experiences all within close proximity to Tokyo.
Whether you are heading to Japan specifically for a golf holiday or you are traveling through the country and just want a one-day golf experience Shizuoka, with over 90 golf courses in total, can cater to anyone looking for a day on the links.
There’s a valley on the Southernmost slope of the majestic Mt. Fuji that the golfing world hasn’t discovered yet. Imagine standing so close to Mt. Fuji that you are forced to look up at a 45 degree angle to see the summit.
Imagine the Ashitaka mountain range to your left, the slopes of Hakone behind you and Fuji International Speedway toyour right. Now imagine as you stand on this lush green plane, that there are thermal hot springs and fresh water springs to be found all around you.
To top it off, envision 22 world-class golf courses sprinkled throughout this natural splendor. Welcome to the Gotemba and Oyama valleys of Shizuoka, Japan!
Gotemba / Oyama
INTRODUCTION TO THE AREA
This valley has long been a sporting and activity playground for locals, families and business people looking to get away from the nearby Tokyo and Yokohama areas. You couldn’t script the scenery any better for a memorable golf getaway with dramatic views of Mt. Fuji towering overhead all day.
The 22 courses are all easily accessible within 30 minutes of each other, or an easy taxi ride from JR Gotemba station. Gotemba Station can be easily accessed from Shinjuku station in Tokyo or from Mishima Station on the Tokaido Bullet Train Line – it is possible to leave Tokyo at 6am & be teeing off on the first hole by 9am.
The diverse geographical features of the valley make for an interesting variety of course styles from some level to mountainous courses perched along volcanic ridges with plenty of elevation changes. Laid back to tricky to long, this area has it all and is sure to not disappoint golfers of every level, from novice to expert.
The grass mostly used in the area is Bent for greens and creeping Korai for fairways and tees. This means that fairways do go dormant in the winter months (turning in the Autumn to yellowish brown), but spring back to their regular lush green from the first to second week of April, just after the cherry tree blossoms have fallen. You can watch the yearly cherry blossom predictions, add a week to ten days, and you’ll have an accurate timetable for the grass sprouting and coming out of its dormancy.
WHERE TO PLAY
Playing golf in the Gotemba / Oyama area you will be treated to stunning views of Mount Fuji from every course, with perhaps the best being from along the base to slightly up on the side of the Hakone mountain. These courses include: Fuji Country Club, Gatsby Golf Club, Ashigara Shinrin G.C., Gotemba Golf Club, Belle View Nagao G.C., Odawara G.C. Nichido Gotemba Course and Rembrandt Golf Club.
Although not the closest to the summit, they provide the most iconic views of the summit. All the clubs in the valley are kept to a very high standard, there are a few standouts for overall experience.
Fuji Country Club is the first club to be built in the Gotemba valley, having been supported in 1958 by the then Prime Minister of Japan, Tanzan Ishibashi. The clubhouse today is the original built in 1957 by famed New York designer Antonin Raymond and is now designated a national heritage building.
This course, although not overly long, is a technical Shiro Akaboshi design that tests your shot control and course management. The course is kept in such pristine condition, that your shoes will probably be cleaner after your round than when you started!! Japanese Princess Chichibunomiya presided over the official ribbon cutting ceremony way back in 1958.
Another highly regarded course is the Taiheiyo Club. Founded in 1972 this golf course hosts the Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo Masters every November. This club is one of the best in Japan & has seen its share of top players from all over the world.
Impeccably manicured, this course strikes just the right balance between risk and reward shots with each hole being carved out of the mature forest.
As a tournament course there are plenty of tee options to choose from, with everybody’s favorite hole being the No.18th par 5 finishing hole. The winner of the springs Augusta Masters tournament every year is invited to play in this Autumn tournament and they usually do.
Want to read the greens like a local expert? Remember this; the grain of the greens in the Gotemba valley, on the Mt. Fuji side, will always grow away from Mt. Fuji.
So if you are putting towards the mountain, it might be heavy and if you are putting away from it, it may roll faster than it appears!
Many local courses often put small Mt. Fuji signs near the green to show the direction of the summit.
Enjoy this new knowledge and your round!
If you have a JR Rail Pass it is a 25 min Bullet Train ride from Tokyo Station to Mishima station, a 5 min trip on the local train to Numazu station and a 40 min local train to Gotemba station – Buses and transport from Mishima Station are also available and take between 40 mins to 1 hour.
If you don’t have a rail pass, or you are staying closer to Shinjuku Station, there is a direct Odakyu Romance Car train that leaves at 06:40 am will get you to Gotemba in 1 hr 40 mins. A return Romance Car Train leaves Gotemba at 18:47 pm getting you back to Shinjuku station at 20:20pm – leaving enough time for a decent day on the links, an onsen and some good food before heading back to the big city.
Play & Stay
Looking for a great Play and Stay getaway option with a Mt. Fuji view? Asagiri Country Club is a perfect location to enjoy a night right on the course, The club features newly built twin rooms with over 24m² or upgrade to a 45m² Royal Twin.
Enhance your stay by adding the buffet style breakfast and lunch or dinner of either Sukiyaki, Shabu Shabu, or a Japanese Kaiseki. All rooms include free Wi-Fi and unlimited access to the on-site Japanese hot baths.
Asagiri Country Club’s course is an area favorite, with lots of undulations and speedy greens in a perfect, natural setting. For club and course information and shuttle times from the nearby bullet train station Shin-Fuji see: www.asagiri.co.jp