One of the oldest sports with the richest history played my many generations is golf. As it is one of the most popular sports today in Japan, it is not rare to see a golf course packed with people during the weekends. We all practice to enhance our skills and get better to reach a high score. What goes unseen is what it takes to make the course successful: the surrounding scenery, the quality, and the playability of the course. These are just a few simple factors that make a noteworthy golf course. Now think in terms of Osaka, the second-largest city in Japan, surrounded by mountains and a harbor. One of the most restful ways to learn the terrain of a new place is by golfing. Why not have a game surrounded by breathtaking views and nature?
In the Osaka prefecture, there are 34 golf courses. The golf courses that we are showcasing here on our list are specific courses that are around 45 minutes away from Osaka by car. These courses not only have high ratings but have amenities that keep you satisfied and stress-free for the whole day!
WORLD COUNTRY GOLF COURSE, WORLD CLASS VIEWS AT A FRACTION OF THE COST
The main attraction of this golf course is the stunning views of Osaka. Locating at the southern-eastern part of Osaka, you get the whole view of the city and harbor. World Country Golf Course course was established in 1997 and was designed by Rick Jacobson. This fairly new golf course is only 44 minutes away from Osaka by car. The course itself is roughly 7,077 yards in total length. After playing a round of golf, there is not only a restaurant but a bathhouse for you to relax in! Once you are sucked in by the gorgeous views this location offers, you might want to stay a night or two! There are 'play' and also 'stay' packages for the avid golfer or traveling businessman.
The full course is laid out almost in a figure-eight pattern, totaling around 7,077 yards. With wide fairways and challenging greens, this course is a beast to play! Challenging and with great views? Sign me up! With both long drives and technical handling required, this course is for someone with a lot of energy and commitment. Being near the base of Iwahashi mountain, every hole is different. One hole may have small rolling hills with inter-weaved sand bunkers while the next may contain a 300-yard drive required for the fairway. You never know! That is part of the mystique of this course for first-time players, and what draws in returning players.
TRAVEL, PERKS, AND LOCAL ICONS
The World Country Golf Course is 44 minutes away from Umeda Station, in the heart of Osaka. This course is not only highly notable due to its scenery, but for the location as well. World Country G.C. is around halfway between Osaka and Nara. Meaning, if you want to spend a weekend out exploring after a round or two of golf, drive to Nara and meet the famous deer of Nara. Or if you are from Nara, finish the trek to Osaka and have some Takoyaki! Either way, you wouldn't regret this trip! To speak further of local icons, while golfing you literally cannot miss the Osaka Tsutenkaku Tower. Also, you will be close enough to visit Hirokawa-Dera. As prices and availability vary due to COVID 19-related issues, their website mentions their current prices.
This Second Course is perfect for traveling businessmen and students who need to escape the city for a while. It is the Takatsuki Golf Course, referred to as "Takatsuki Gold Kurabu" in Japanese. For a very modest fee, you can relax and just dream about that perfect hole-in-one. If you simply need to relax and don’t want to walk that much, there is an attached driving range. After your outing, if you feel a bit hungry, then visit their restaurants in their main building. Also, they have men's and women's locker rooms if you are worried about your odor or just need to shower. Now when I say inside city limits, I mean between the Yodogawa River and Shibocho Town. What makes this course noteworthy is the rich history behind it. Being established in 1959, it has seen some changes but not enough to damage either course or reputation.
COURSE LAYOUT AND DIFFERENCES
When comparing Takatsuki G.C. to World Country G.C. in terms of just course difficulty alone, World Country has more challenging courses. The holes at Takatsuki are shorter with more narrow fairways. However, the greens are as challenging along with plenty of water hazards and sand bunkers. The quality is just the same so please don't underestimate! In addition to impeccable quality, Takatsuki G.C. also has English-speaking attendants available! Even if you are traveling, don't worry. There is always English support for you to get around the golf courses.
Now, in terms of the differences to commute, from Umeda Station, Takatsuki G.C. is only 23 minutes by car while the World Country G.C. is 44 minutes by car. The last difference between the two is the price. World Country golf is the definition of a golf resort, therefore you will have to pay for golf resort prices. Takatsuki G.C. averages around $70 for 18 holes! Here is the website for you to check out!
PERKS OF TAKATSUKI G.C. AND NEARBY ATTRACTIONS
If you find dazzling sunsets and a gorgeous Osaka cityscape unattractive, then this may just be an average golf course for you. But if this is appealing to you, you can surely spend an enjoyable day! In addition to all of the amenities offered at this golf course, you are right next to the Yodogawa River. This means you are only 20 minutes from Dotonbori and all of the Takoyaki food you need!
Apart from the other two golf courses, the Taishi Country Club provides you a luxury feel. Dripping with luxury in every corner of every green, this course redefines how golf and relaxation are paired. From businessmen to the CEO’s of major corporations, anyone visits here to relax and play golf. If you are looking for the perfect location for a golfing outing, this can be your option. With the amenities to ensure that you will enjoy your stay, Taishi Country Club’s Golf Course is the cherry on top. This course is both challenging and beautiful as holes reach up to 540 yards in length, accompanied by wide fairways. Adding to the challenge of these holes is the strategically placed sand traps and water hazards. This adds subtle touches to the secluded paradise feeling that you get once you arrive at the club.
DIFFERENCES IN COURSE AND AMENITIES
As for the differences between courses, this one is quite similar to World Country Golf Course. Similar in location, as they are fairly close and similar in offering breathtaking views. The main building at Taishi Country Club isn’t even visible from the street. It is secluded so it makes a perfect place to escape. After a few rounds of golf, the fabulous way to relax is in the Yokujou, or the bathhouse. Here, you can enjoy GORGEOUS views. Mountain views of the whole of Osaka that you cannot help but notice. Another difference is the restaurant at Tashi Country Club, The Restaurant Sakura. The excellent dishes prepared here is simply mouth-watering! Regarding the golf course, the difficulty is similar to World Country Golf Course, as it has more rolling hills and drops. It is even difficult for experienced golfers!
COUNTRY CLUB GOLF COURSE PERKS AND DIRECTIONS
One of the benefits that brings Taishi Country Club to this list is that it is 36 minutes away from Umeda Station by car. Of course, if you live near Kanan Town, it is only a brief walk to this sanctuary for the soul. This special get-away golf course is perfect for an escape from city life. Nearby, almost attached to this course is the Osaka Prefectural Chikatsu Asuka Museum. Right next to the museum is Chikatsu Asuka Fudoki-No-Oka Historical Park. In addition, higher up on Iwahashiyama, there is the Iwafune Shinto Shrine. These make for a relaxing trip to Taishi Country Club for some golf and R&R, but also for an educational or spiritual trip. They also have a driving range on site, making it perfect for you to swing before hitting the links! Check out the website here for more details! Also the sky views of the courses.
HISTORY OF GOLF IN OSAKA
Golf in Japan has a very recent history actually. Golf was introduced to Japan by British ex-pat Artur Hesketh Groom in 1901. During this time, the course wasn’t even nine holes, it was a four-hole loop that was to eventually expand. Japan had what we call a “Golf Boom”. This boom happened in the 1950s-60s and led to a surge in the game and a 1957 win of the World Cup by Nakamura Torakichi. The Japan Golf Tour was established in 1973 due to this monumental success. In the 1980s, when land-use restrictions finally loosened was when most of the courses emerged. To be specific, over 1000 courses emerged just in this time period. Recently, Hideki Matsuyama rose to the number 2 spot in the World Golf Rankings.
Starting with the most recent famous Japanese pro golfer, as mentioned above, you cannot miss Hideki Matsuyama. Considering being Japan's greatest golfer, Matsuyama has already won the PGA TOUR five times. Jumping back to the “Golf Boom” times in Japan, the ’80s saw Isao Aoki win the 1983 Hawaii Open. With that win, he became the first Japanese Person and the first Asian person to win the PGA TOUR. Of course, you cannot mention golf in Japan without mentioning Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki. This man won the Japan Tour 94 times!
As to answer why critics are considering Hideki Matsuyama the best Japanese Golfer of all time, he was the first Japanese and Asian person to win a World's golf championship event. In April 2021, Matsuyama also became the first Japanese golfer to win the Masters Tournament. However, this choosing of the 'best Japanese golfer of all time' is currently under intense debate between golfing fans. Many are staying with Masashi “Jumbo” Ozaki as the reigning best Japanese player. They state that more time is needed for Matsuyama to prove if he is really better than “Jumbo”.
ETIQUETTE ON AND OFF THE COURSE
One thing everyone knows about golf, in general, is that there are very specific rules taken place. In addition to general etiquette rules like; if the turf is accidentally tee'd up during your swing, putting it back and pushing it down. There are other rules like if you step into the sand bunker, you must rake the sand back to cover your footprints. Even novice golfers know these rules.
In fancier locations, there are clubhouse rules, like a dress code and common course decency. While playing in Japan, there are a few more rules to note. Similarly to rules in other courses and countries, some clubs may require you wear a jacket inside. Make sure to plan carefully and check the course’s website ahead to look for the course rules.
One aid in Japanese golf courses is the yellow flag symbol. Conveniently, just so you know how long to wait for those ahead of you there are bright yellow flags set around the average drive distance. Another only-in-Japan golfing thing is the O.B. tees. In places where it is common for a ball to go out of bounds, you can use these tees to detect where it lies. One more important thing to note is that there is no tipping in Japan. So if you have a caddie, do not give them tips!
Golfing in Japan can be a cool experience! Going to a golf course in Osaka, is a treat above any other. These courses are only a small drive away from Osaka! The glamorous views surround you while you enjoy a relaxing game. Furthermore, you can take a nice relaxing bath and have delicious dinner. This one-day golf trip will be perfect for a relaxing weekend, away from all of your stress! If you are visiting Osaka to see your family or friends, or even for business trips, there are no better places to visit for golf, food, and culture!