4 golf courses near Tokyo with wide-open fairways

Julian Ryall, CNNPublished 12th July 2017
(CNN) — For those accustomed to manicured greens, wide-open fairways and challenging bunkers, golf courses in Tokyo can often feel claustrophobic. Fortunately, a number of courses offering terrific experiences at reasonable prices are located close to the city.
None of the courses in the following list requires membership. Rental clubs are available at each. While dress codes are not strictly enforced, sharp dress and adherence to etiquette is always encouraged on Japanese courses. Solo golfers are a rarity, though not unheard of.
A word of warning: While some clubs are introducing afternoon or "twilight rounds," plenty of courses still see their last player off the first tee by 11 a.m., as rounds will always include lunch and be taken at a leisurely pace over five hours.

1. Windsor Park Golf and Country Club

Basic info: Only one hour up the Joban Expressway from Tokyo, Windsor Park Golf and Country Club is a magnificent course maintained to high international standards. The course provides challenges for everyone from scratch players to relative novices.
Scenery: Rolling hills, lots of greenery, classic clubhouse.
Claim to fame: PGA professional Tom Watson is a frequent visitor.
Difficulty: 3/5
Windsor Park Golf and Country Club: 3473 Shiogo, Shirosato-machi, Higashi-Ibaraki-gun, Ibaraki 311-4401, +81 (0)296 88 2221

2. Gotemba Golf Club

Tiger Woods follows through on a shot at the Gotemba Golf Course near Tokyo, Japan.
Basic info: At 6,320 yards, Gotemba Golf Course is a par-72 course and is deceptively tricky. Wind and creative course layout ensure that it remains a challenge, particularly on holes 11 through 14. Offering accommodations and restaurants, as well as its own brewery, onsen and rental bicycles, the Gotemba Kogen resort is a short golf cart ride away.
Scenery: Stunning views of Mount Fuji and the Pacific Ocean.
Claim to fame: Gotemba is one of Japan's most famous resort areas.
Difficulty: 3/5
Gotemba Golf Club: 1924-2 Koyama, Gotemba-shi, Shizuoka 412-0033, +81 (0)550 87 1555

3. Aqualine Golf Club

Basic info: Due to its water hazards and dangerous bunkers, holes 17 and 18 of this par-72 course are frequently compared with the famous Blue Monster 18th at the Doral Golf Resort in Miami. The opening of the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line Tunnel, linking Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, has drastically reduced the driving time for Tokyo-based golfers going to the Aqualine Golf Club. It's just 35 minutes from Kawasaki's Ukishima junction.
Scenery: Hilly terrain
Claim to fame: Designed by well-known course architect Shunsuke Kato
Difficulty: 3/5
Aqualine Golf Club: 4345-3 Mariyatsu, Kisarazu-shi, Chiba 292-0201, +81 (0)438 53 3800

4. Kawana Resort Hotel

The Kawana Hotel and Golf Hotel is in stunning surroundings.
Basic info: One of the most venerable old hotels in Japan, the Kawana Resort Hotel has two courses. All holes on the Oshima course have nicknames -- including "Goodbye," in honor of all the balls lost on number 13.
Scenery: Elevated greens and sunken fairways bordering cliffs that plunge 100 feet into the Pacific. Views of Mount Fuji.
Claim to fame: Kawana Resort Hotel was established in 1928.
Difficulty: 5/5
Kawana Resort Hotel: 1459 Kawana, Ito City, Shizuoka 414-0044, tel. +81 (0)557 45 1111
Editor's note: This article was previously published in 2009. It was reformatted and republished in 2017.
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