GOLF in Japan… crowded and expensive? Not if you’re lucky enough to have discovered Niseko. In fact, in Hokkaido it’s very much the opposite.
Up here land is plentiful and cheap, and the population sparse. In turn course fees are affordable and fairways are often deserted. Of course, with rolling green hills and snow capped peaks even in midsummer, the scenery is amazing.
Due to the lack of development, every course feels like it’s secluded deep in Hokkaido’s wilderness. The air is clean, the temperature is mild. Take it all in at the laid back pace Hokkaido is renowned for and you have one of the best golfing setups in Asia, if not the world.
There are 172 golf courses in Hokkaido – a third as many as Scotland, the home of golf – and five courses within 15 minutes drive of Niseko. One aspect local courses share with mainland Japanese resorts is immaculate maintenance – perfectly manicured greens and a fairways barely missing a divot. It really has to be seen to be believed.
Weekends are prime time for golf when businessmen are able to get out on the green themselves.
During the week however, it’s all yours. If you’re on a budget, take note of some of the local specials, such as the early bird session at Niseko’s stunning Hanazono Tokyu for just ¥4000. If you really do your research, you’ll find a great deal that also includes a free onsen hot spring bath in the price.
The only other advice I can give you is, if you buy a house in Niseko, invest in a good set of golf clubs as well as a set of skis.