It’s here! The first golf post! Ok if you are not into golf then please feel free to tune out right now. And yes, I’m aware that this post has absolutely nothing to do with personal finance, but if that’s all we talk about then it’s going to get boring.
You can’t just save all of your money to secure your financial future after all. You have to spend some of it on what you enjoy in the here and now, which for me tends to be golf. The aim of this post is to provide expats in Japan with links to useful information to feed their golf addiction. I won’t try to fit it all into one post, so expect more on this at a later date. I apologise that it is very Kanto focussed, but that’s what I know. I always welcome an exchange of information with people in other parts of Japan.
Firstly, if you are new to Japan, I have to tell you that you are living in a paradise full of wonderful golf courses, but things are a little different from back home. Basically golf in Japan takes all day. If you are planning to pop out for a round early in the morning and be back in the office by lunchtime, you are likely to be disappointed. Although even that can be done if you know where to look! Mostly though you are going to need to plan for the day: up early, travel to the course, bit of practice, tee off, finish the front nine and take a break for lunch (I kid you not), back nine, hot bath, maybe a drink or two, and back home for dinner. It’s simple, you can fight this routine, or you can embrace it.
Many people have the image that golf in Japan is prohibitively expensive. While it certainly is on the pricy side compared to what we may be used to, we are well out of the bubble era where golf memberships were changing hands for tens of millions of yen.
My best advice it this: If at all possible, take a day off and play on a weekday. It’s cheaper, less crowded, you have more control over tee times, and of course the knowledge that everyone else is in the office while you are on the golf course! Typically you can expect to pay between 8,000 and 12,000 yen on a weekday including lunch, while weekend prices average somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 yen.
If you are looking for people to play with, here are a couple of expat friendly groups you can consider joining:
Tokyo Beer and Golf Society – I think the name explains this one well enough. Always fun, well organised days out, and always a beer within easy reach. (the photo at the top of this post is me in one of their snazzy uniforms)
Tokyo Golfers – another relaxed, friendly group that plays often on Fridays and weekends.
For researching places to play, here are some useful sites:
Air Golf – lot’s of useful info here, including that elusive early bird round that gets you back to the office by lunchtime!
Golf in Japan – great for course reviews.
If you can read Japanese, then Rakuten Gora is essential for booking your round – lot’s of deals and promotions going on, and they also have a single player booking system (一人予約), whereby people looking for playing partners can meet up and organise a round.
Hopefully that will help to get you started. As always feel free to ask questions and look out for the next random golf post.