By: Hal Phillips
We all have an appreciation for just how much Koreans and Japanese love their golf. One trip to Thailand reveals the lengths they will go (literally) to find it. Ever wonder exactly why these inveterate golf travelers – some of the game’s keenest road warriors – don’t play more at home? Well, there are two central reasons: Firstly, most of the courses in Japan, for example, are private; ditto for Korea; and secondly, these are mountainous, populous, island/peninsular nations where land suitable for farming is fiercely protected. In other words, building golf courses on farmland is a no-no, politically, which is why so many Korean and Japanese courses (most of them private) are built in the mountains, on less arable land.
All of this background is relevant (honestly!), because it puts in context exactly why the Fuji Course at the Kawana Hotel Golf Club is so extraordinary – it’s one of our top ten Asia-Pacific golf courses you can play. For starters, it is that rare Japanese resort course. It’s located far from the mountains – at the seaside, actually, overlooking Sagami Bay, a couple of hours south of Tokyo. As the name implies, it features incredible on-course views of the sacred Mt Fuji. Most importantly, the golf itself is sublime: a hilly and dramatic front nine, beautifully availed of the Izu Peninsula coastline (and its views), and a superb set of finishing holes. There’s even a second, darned good course next door, the Oshima, should you avail yourself of the hotel and make a weekend of it.
What truly sets the Fuji Course apart is its design style and lineage. It was laid out by C.H. Alison, a British architect who arrived on Japanese shores in 1930 and would subsequently have a hand in creating Japan’s most revered tracks: Tokyo GC, Hirono, Kasumigaseki and Naruo. Among them, only the Fuji – opened in 1937 – is accessible to the public. This period, between the wars, is known as golf course architecture’s Golden Age, a time when courses were still built without the aid of equipment but nevertheless pushed the envelope in terms of course-shaping and playing strategies. In Asia, alas, there simply aren’t many courses that date from this hallowed era. Of these, most are located in Japan and they’re super private – all except the Fuji Course.
To read more, visit The Fuji Course at Kawana Hotel Golf Club, Japan