The perfect place to experience the Mie golfing tradition!
Opened in 1979, the Chunichi Country Club is one of the oldest courses in Mie prefecture, Sitting at the base of the Suzuka Mountains, it is a 30-minute drive from Tsu city or just under an hour from Nagoya city. The course was designed by Hirochika Tomizawa, a very famous designer in Japan whose mantra was ‘To make original designs that stimulate players’ imagination’. The course has 27 holes, the West course, Middle course and East course. Taking the longest configuration of two 9s the length is 7,022 from the back tees. The course has a dual green system with bent grass, and of course fairways are Japanese korai. The course is generally flat and easy to get around, carts are mandatory.
There is something about older golf courses in Japan that absolutely exudes class, how the staff greet you at the door, sign you in, and take care of you is just another level of service, unlike anywhere in the world. There is a calm sophistication, and one has a sense of privilege to experience them. That’s the feeling you get when you visit Chunichi country club.
As we made our way to the 1st tee we were impressed with the maintenance, the course looked in cracking shape and we couldn’t wait to get started. Today we were playing the east course first followed by the west course. The first hole is a slight dog-leg par 5, 538 yards from the blues, and a little uphill for the last 1/3rd. Reaching the green in two wasn’t possible (the hole has a lot of space you can try a fairway wood or driver off the deck with little fear of losing it) but some tidy approaches later and we all made pars. The greens are worthy of note as they were quite fast 10.5 on the stimp meter and with lots of nuances, but very true.
The next stretch were two beautiful par 4s, with well-manicured fairways they were a pleasure to play on. I loved the water and bunkering on these holes – well placed for a challenge and stunningly idyllic too. The 4th is a 150-yard par 3 with large bunkers in front of both greens, my advice here is to club-up as it is deceptively (if only slightly) uphill, enough to catch us all out and end up in the aforementioned bunkers. 5,6, and 7 are pretty short par 4s which you would think would make some easy scoring, but alas, all have their own unique greens, and it’s easy to find the rough at the back- especially with greens this firm and fast.
Another tip I would like to share with you is, if you can, bring a range-finder with you as it’s tricky to get an accurate yardage from the stakes alone. As we carded a few less than perfect scores we needed a pep-up and found it in the shape of the wonderful par three, the 8th, a hole that if you have the right green- as we did, wraps around a lake and is quite dramatic. Although my companions both failed to find the putting surface mine (with a freak bounce from off the green) landed to within a few feet and our first birdie of the day. We finished the 9 as we started, with a long par 5 slightly uphill, we needed 3 good shots to reach the green, and we all agreed as we walked off; par is a good score for this hole.
After a short break and a delicious lunch we were ready for more. We had heard that the West course is the hardest of the three 9’s, and it was. The opening was a long par 5 similar to the morning but with a slight dogleg to the left, despite having some long hitters in the group, this green also eluded us to be on in two, however two birdies were yielded so no complaints there!.
Some steady playing on the 2nd hole kept the round going despite us all going for the wrong green (the pin was on the 2nd green behind the 1st). We then came to what was our favorite hole: the par-3 third. At 190 yards over a very steep gorge with water at the bottom, the hole has an epic feel to it. I admit I succumbed to the pressure, and bladed one into the hill, somehow staying up, but inevitably leading to a double (ill do better next time!).
The 5th and 6th, both par 4s provided some easier scoring, lush, picturesque and enjoyable. The 6th is another par 3 over a gorge but didn’t feel as treacherous as the 3rd. A chip in birdie here from just off the green had me riding high, but hopes of a low round or a PB were dashed as the next two holes proved to be a brutal stretch, with a long par 5- (the hardest hole on the course) followed by the 8th, a par 4 with a pond to contend with on the 2nd shot, these two didn’t fair well for the group. The 9th however, was kind to us. A gentle and picturesque finishing hole it is a tidy end to a most enjoyable round. I will be back again to try the other 9 and to exact revenge on the 3rd!
When visiting Chunichi Country Club, players need to wear a blazer, trousers and collared shirt. On the course, shorts is acceptable but remember when entering and leaving the club to wear your jacket, trousers and shoes (no jeans and trainers allowed). The clubhouse as part of the 40th anniversary was under some renovations when we were there, so we couldn’t access everything, but the main focus is undoubtedly on the restaurant, a large 2fl room with bay windows overlooking the practice greens.
A hearty range of options for lunch are available such as tempura, pasta, tuna bowl, fried noodles and soup noodles as well as their famed ‘Tonki Set’ (roasted pork in an original sauce), the Japanese dishes served with rice and soup accompanying. They also have a tasty breakfast in the mornings of scrambled eggs and toast for just 600 yen. A large selection of soft and alcoholic drinks are available with local shochu and sake being the must-try!
Both male and female locker rooms are large and spacious offering the traditional ofuro bath; great for an after-round soak, and there is also a pro shop with branded goods should you want to purchase some omiage (souvenirs) on your visit.