Things to note about the basics of golf in Japan:
– At most high-end clubs, playing with a caddie is compulsory. Caddies in Japan tend to be a little bit on in age, but are tremendously knowledgeable of the course and reading the greens.
– Indeed, very few of them will have English ability, but you’d be surprised how far you can get with hand gestures and a smile. Very often they will be predicting your club selections within just a few holes and bringing you the clubs you need, before you ask!
– There will be just one caddie per foursome
– Make sure you clearly label your bag with a name-tag before you arrive at the course
– The staff or your caddie will put your foursomes golf bags on the proper cart
– Your caddie will introduce himself or herself to you in the morning and ask you your name. Keep it short and simple. Note, they will answer to “caddie-san” should you forget their name (…and “caddie-san” is gender neutral)
– You will be asked to count your clubs and probably sign a chit to attest to the number
– All courses here in Japan have their distances listed in yards not meters and should the course have a 2-green configuration, the yardage markers on the same side as the green in use that day are the accurate ones.
– Often the left and right side greens have different yardages, so it’s important to be careful when you select your clubs!
– Should your tee shot go OB, most clubs have a playing 4, foreword tee, on all but par 3’s. This is a local rule and is designed to help move play along. Please use them as necessary
– There will be a snack bar on the course with full washroom facilities usually between the 4th and 5th holes. Beverages and snacks are usually available and you can often charge them to your player’s card, then settle the bill after your round
– After the front nine, you will return to the clubhouse and receive your second start time for the back nine after lunch from the caddie master. Lunch break will be 40 minutes to an hour
– Bring your players card to charge your lunch and any other incidentals
– Remember, its good etiquette to clean your golf shoes with the air guns provided before entering the clubhouse (they will be near the entrance)
– Bring your camera as the menus and entrées are usually quite elaborate and often quite picture-worthy! Enjoy!
– After the back nine your caddie will ask you to count your clubs again to make sure you haven’t left any on the course. You may be asked to sign again and given a claim check for them. Your caddie will wipe them and get them to the front entrance bag drop for you
– To tip or not to tip your caddie? This is always at your discretion. It used to be more prevalent in the past, but these days perhaps getting them a cold drink at the snack bar would suffice. If you did decide to tip, about 500yen/bag is fine.