Being packed, seemingly shoulder-to-shoulder, with people you could be forgiven for thinking that Tokyo is not the best place to, to paraphrase Mark Twain, spoil a good walk. However, there are plenty of excellent golfing areas around the capital.
Of course there are many roof-top driving ranges, hammering balls into nets mere feet away, but there are also a huge range of top quality, well, ranges on which to work on your handicap just outside the city.
Surrounded by Mountains Fuji, Hakone and the Tanazawa mountain range, this prestigious club is considered a course not only for leisure, but also for business. So much so that the club claims that very few Japanese executives over the age of fifty have not trodden this 36 hole course. Cut from the mountainous forest by renowned golf course architect Theodore G. Robinson, Lakewood Golf Club boasts fine cuisine and gracious hospitality.
Distance from Tokyo: 75km
Sakawa Royal Golf Club has around 3000 members, however, if you are unfortunate enough not to be a member of this course that has Mt Fuji views from nearly every hole, prices have recently been lowered, and they allow non-members on weekdays. For golfers seeking a challenge there are four holes with water, 18 sand traps and a dogleg. There is also a practice putting area, night-lights, a minimum of one English speaking staff member on duty at any one time and they are open all year round.
Distance from Tokyo: 89km
If weekdays are busy and you don’t play often enough to warrant a membership, then Windsor Park Golf Club is ideal. While still having the facilities of a membership club, such as a putting green, driving range, clubhouse as well as a business centre and overnight accommodation, it is a member-free club and thus operates an open access policy. Also, as well as providing playing space for individuals and groups, they will also close the club to guarantee exclusive use for groups of 120 or more.
Distance from Tokyo: 127km
Gotemba is one of Japan’s most famous retreat areas, and this hillside golf club offers beautiful views of Mt Fuji. A little over an hour outside of Tokyo, another advantage of Gotemba Golf Club is that club rental and all round lessons are available in English. A free shuttle bus from JR Gotemba station is also provided, meaning it is easily accessible for those without personal transportation.
Distance from Tokyo: 108km
For those of you who have never swung a club in anger, but want to give it a try, the world of the clubhouse can seem pretty intimidating. However Jinji Golf School offers lessons in a fun and relaxed environment, with lessons tailor-made to suit your own specific needs. They also have English-speaking coaches, so you don’t have to worry about brushing up on your Japanese before brushing up on your game.
Distance from Tokyo: 11km (Jingu Mae golf range) 13km (Meguro golf range)
But perhaps the great outdoors isn’t your thing. Well, the 19th Hole at Tokyo American Club has two top of the line golf simulators with images of the world’s top courses. Access is for members, but don’t worry if you are not from the USA, as their membership includes over fifty nationalities. Use of the simulators costs JPY 2,500 per hour and can be booked online for up to two hours. Members are free to bring their own clubs or they can be provided.
Distance from Tokyo: 5km
Distances from Tokyo taken from Tokyo train station with private transport using Google maps.
The above details are for information only and are not to be seen as endorsements.
Photo: Wikimedia - "Golfer Swing" by Lilrizz - (CC0 1.0) - modified