Fukakusayabunouchicho, KyotoFukakusayabunouchicho, Kyoto


Golf in Japan


According to a recent survey by Golf Monthly magazine there are now 3169 golf courses in Japan, the most of any country except the USA.

Half of all the courses in Asia are in Japan!

Unfortunately the Japanese population is aging to the point that many private golf clubs are no longer fully utilised.

Private golf clubs in Japan operate differently to other countries, and taking a break after 9 holes for a full cooked meal can be mandatory.

After golf a dip in the onsen is normal procedure, so a day at the golf club fills the day.


The clubs themselves have first class facilities- particularly in relation to kitchen, dining & onsen- so the invested capital and the ongoing running costs are relatively high.

By making a stop for a full lunch mandatory for each booked round of golf, the clubs have a guaranteed revenue to offset costs.

But the aging population is becoming a factor, with inbound travelling golfers an attractive option going forward.

Japan has long held an almost mystical allure for tourists, so expect to hear more about golf in Japan in years to come..


Japan should become a boom destination for travelling golfers- certainly private golf clubs going forward might appreciate the additional revenue stream-  making it practical and affordable to tourists is now a prority. 


Asian Golf Tourism Convention 2023 


In March 2023 The Travelling Golfer headed to Miyazaki in Japan to attend the Asian Golf Tourism Convention.

It was the first time in four years we had been able to join in- COVID put pay to the event from 2020 through to 2022.

After the convention Heather and I undertook some reconnaissance with our next escorted tour of Japan in mind..


To  get to AGTC Miyazaki we flew Melbourne/Sydney/Tokyo/Miyazaki, arriving late Sunday night.

Of course with the late arrival it was inevitable that we would draw a very early start for golf the next morning at Miyazaki Lakeside GC!

But a beautiful day, good company, and a very good golf course, made it a good day to be a tour operator.

Miyazaki Lakeside GC is virtually unknown outside Japan however I would have no hesitation in recommending it to all Travelling Golfers.

For more information see: https://www.thetravellinggolfer.com.au/course-report/miyazaki-lakeside-gc


Miyazaki Lakeside GC- hole 4Miyazaki Lakeside GC- hole 4


In the afternoon we explored some of the sightseeing, history & culture around Miyazaki before heading to the conference hotel- the Sheraton Grande Resort, which overlooks Phoenix Country Club.


On Tuesday we played the famous Phoenix Country Club, known for hosting The Dunlop International tournament since 1974.

The tournament has been won by Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Watson, Jumbo Ozaki and many more..

It is a good course, heavily treed and an easy walk.

See our Course report: https://www.thetravellinggolfer.com.au/course-report/phoenix-country-club


Phoenix CC Sumiyoshi nine hole 2 approachPhoenix CC- Sumiyoshi nine, hole 2 approach


On Wednesday and Thursday the convention was in full swing!

We had 15 minute long meetings with suppliers from all around Asia, and of course there were many Japanese representatives keen to make our acquaintance!

Sessions went all day with short breaks for lunch and tea.

It was exhausting, but invaluable- time well spent!

Wednesday night we ventured to the heart of Miyazaki's business district and dined at a local restaurant.

It was a great night! 


Miyazaki CBDMiyazaki CBD

Miyazaki restaurantMiyazaki restaurant



Reconnaissance Tour


After finishing our session at the conference on Thursday afternoon, Heather and I flew from Miyazaki to Osaka then caught a bus to Kobe where we stayed at the Okura hotel on the waterfront.



 On Friday morning we caught a taxi to Hirono Golf Club.

Unfortunately we had left our international driving licences at home and were unable to hire a car, so taxi it was..


Hirono has been considered the best course in Japan and one of the world's top 40 courses since it was built in 1924.

I had played it in 2016, and was keen for Heather to see it.

In recent years noted architects MacKenzie & Ebert have been busy substantially renovating the course, so I was pleased to check in..

See my Course Report for Hirono GC here: https://www.thetravellinggolfer.com.au/course-report/tokyo-golf-club-4


Hirono GC- hole 5Hirono GC- hole 5 


At this time of year the Japanese courses are just starting to come out of dormancy- but they play well and look good. 



When we are honoured with a chance to play on one of Japan's top private courses we are inevitably paired with a club member of official.

At Hirono we had the good fortune to be joined by a member (Kuni) and had a great day.

After golf it so happened that our hotel was near Kuni's home, so he offered to drive us to the hotel.

Then he took us to meet his family, showed us the ancestral home, and shouted us to dinner with the family at the local Teppanyaki restaurant.

It was a fabulous night and we felt spoiled!


Meet the family!Meet Kuni & family!


On Saturday morning we were up bright and early and caught a taxi to Ono GC.

Ono is usually rated amongst the top 10 courses in Japan, and is considered a sister course to Hirono.

There are similarities between the courses- particularly in regard to the look of the bunkering.

None of this is a surprise as the designer of Ono (Osamu Ueda) worked with Charles Allison building Hirono.


At Ono we were paired with manager Koji and member Masatoyo. 


Our playing companions at Ono GC- Koji & MasatoyojpegOur playing companions at Ono GC- Koji & Masatoyo.


It was a bleak morning when we teed off- biting cold and drizzle..

But is gradually warmed up and the precipitation ceased.

The company was good and the course was very impressive! 

I rate it as perhaps the 2nd best course in Japan..

See my course report here: https://www.thetravellinggolfer.com.au/course-report/ono-golf-club


Ono GC- hole 17Ono GC- hole 17



After golf Masatoyo very generously offered to drive us to the station where we caught the Shinkansen to Kyoto.

We then caught a taxi to our hotel in central Kyoto- the Ace hotel- which is a modern quality hotel with live music and excellent meals.


Sunday morning we caught a taxi to Kyoto GC, where my Japanese friend had recently become a member.

We were joined by Japanese tour operator Hikaru.

Under sunny blue skies we received a warm welcome from management and set off to explore the Kamigamo course (the club has a 2nd course as well)


 Welcome to Kyoto GCWelcome to Kyoto GC


Kyoto is a busy private club that flies under the radar..

My good friend Yuji is a particularly knowlegeable golfer (he has played 98 of the world's top 100 courses and is an international golf course rater)

He is a member at Naruo- one of the top few courses in Japan- and he knows Japanese golf well.

He chose to join Kyoto GC as well!

So I needed to check it out.


We played the back nine first and it was nice, but not necessarily up to international standard.

It was also a little too compact for a quality course.

After a big lunch we very much enjoyed the front nine.

The terrain was much more interesting with holes sitting in natural self contained settings.

We were impressed!


See my course report here: https://www.thetravellinggolfer.com.au/course-report/kyoto-c


Kyoto GC- Kamigamo Course, hole 14Kyoto GC- Kamigamo Course, hole 14 



Monday to Wednesday were set aside to explore the many faces of Kyoto sightseeing.

The first task was to conquer the public transport system!

Tha ancient shrines and sights are spread all around the sprawling urban mass of Kyoto.

The fast train (Shinkansen) is useful for intercity travel.

Japan Railways (JR) has a large network of above ground suburban trains, and then there is the subway system.

Often you have to combine networks to get to your destination, but the stations don't necessarily coordinate well so it is common to catch a train and then walk a few blocks to connect with another train or bus.

`Either way you have to plan ahead and consider your options.

Fortunately for me Heather has an engineering brain and enjoyed plotting our way around.

Inevitably we explored all of the sites we set out to see!

But on tour of course we will have a local guide to show us around!


 Kiyomizu dera templeKiyomizu dera temple


Bamboo GroveBamboo Grove


Fushimi Inari Taisha thousands of orange Torii gatesFushimi Inari Taisha thousands of orange Torii gates

Fushimi Inari TaishaFushimi Inari Taisha



Kinkaku ji Golden PavilionKinkaku ji- Golden Pavilion 


Cherry Blosson GionCherry Blossom Gion




Philospher's WalkPhilospher's Walk


Mt Kurama Temple WalkMt Kurama Temple Walk 


Gion District- The Old CityGion District- The Old City

Mt Kuaram Temple walkMt Kurama Temple walk



There is much to see in Kyoto! 


Enquire now about a 2024 escorted tour of Japan.

Contact Peter by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.