Some aspects of golfing in Japan may be different from your home country. Learn the general booking procedure for a round of golf, rules that may be unique to the Japanese way of play, and common courtesies practiced at golf clubs in Japan to make your game experience smoother and stress-free.
How to book a round of golf in Japan
Japan’s most prestigious courses are often members-only, though some allow non-members to play for a fee. Reservations at these and Japan’s many public courses are typically made over the phone, or through the course’s official website. Green fees vary from course to course, and are usually discounted on weekdays. Clubs and carts can usually be rented, and caddies can be hired for an additional fee. Please confirm whether a caddy can speak English when making a reservation.
What you need to know about golf in Japan
Golf is typically an all-day event in Japan. Some clubs allow play through, but on most 18-hole courses players are required to take an hour-long lunch break before moving on to the back nine.
Courses in Japan have a couple of unique rules international players may not be familiar with, for example yellow flags and OB tees. Yellow flags are often placed on the fairway about 230 yards (the average driving distance for most golfers here) from the tee. This is to show the recommended line and also for safety, as players are expected to wait for the group ahead of them to pass this flag before teeing off. There can also be a forward tee rule for tee shots that go out of bounds. This is intended to speed up play. Instead of playing a 3rd shot, you simply move to the designated forward tees (usually where a good drive should land) and you play your 4th shot from there.
Players are also expected to wear appropriate attire during the game; typically a collared shirt with slacks or a skirt for ladies, and always golf shoes or sneakers. In summer time, most courses are OK with shorts, however some may require knee-length socks. Some high-end clubs will require men to wear a jacket inside the clubhouse. Most clubhouse facilities in Japan will have an extensive locker room featuring an onsen hot spring or bath, so players can soak their muscles and relax. It is advisable to confirm the dress code and etiquette in advance (usually mentioned on the club's website).