WHERE 75 miles south of Tokyo (one hour by bullet train, plus 15-minute minibus).
WHY The Kawana’s first course, Oshima, opened in the 1920s. Then followed a visit from revered course architect CH Allison. Staying at the Kawana Hotel, he persuaded Anglophile owner Baron Kishichiro Okura to create the Fuji Course, named for the mountain seen from the 11th fairway. This course, laid out through mature parkland with changes of elevation and deep bunkers, opened in 1936. The opening tee shot is steeply downhill, begging the question, “What comes next?” The answer is a grueling three-hole climb. After the halfway house – a compulsory 15-minute stop – fairways cross a plateau towards the finishing stretch along spectacular cliffs. The 11th is the longest hole, while the 15th, which slopes down towards the shore, is the most dramatic. No carts on Fuji, but Oshima allows them. Some holes have robot carts to carry players up steep inclines, an eerie taste of the automation to come.
PRICE Fuji: weekdays ¥26,000 ($248), weekends ¥34,000 ($325), play fee includes caddie and range balls. Oshima: weekdays ¥12,300 ($118), includes cars with GPS and range balls; weekends ¥14,300 ($137). Club rental ¥6,480 ($62), Japanese brands.
HOURS Fuji: stay-and-play tee times 8-10:30 AM. Oshima: visitors any time from 8 AM until sunset.
FACILITIES Fuji: 18 holes, 6,701 yards par 72; Oshima, 5,711 yards par 70. No outdoor practice area. Underground electronic driving range. Putting green.
MAX HANDICAP 24
FOOD AND LEISURE The Kawana Hotel, built in the 1920s, has 100 rooms and was stayed in by honeymooners Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio. Not all rooms are nonsmoking, so reserve ahead. There are two grass tennis courts, swimming pools, and billiard and mahjong rooms. The restaurant serves sashimi and sushi.
CONTACT 1459 Kawana Ito-shi Shizuoka, 414-0044; tel 81 557 45 1111; princehotels.com→
KASUMIGASEKI COUNTRY CLUB (KCC)
WHERE 25 miles north of Tokyo (35 minutes from Kan-Etsu/Ken-O expressway).
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