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Seiichi Inoue

Notable Courses
Year of Birth1908
Year of Death1981 (aged 73)
Place of BirthAkasaka, Tokyo, Japan

Seiichi Inoue was born in 1908 in Akasaka, one of Tokyo’s most prosperous districts. The young Inoue showed academic promise and was studying at high school to become a doctor when he was struck by Japanese encephalitis, a viral brain infection that’s spread via mosquito bites.

When well enough to travel, Inoue relocated south of the capital to the coastal resort of Kawana on the Izu Peninsula, adopted the healthy pursuit of golf and recuperated in the clean seaside air. As luck would have it, a certain Englishman was also visiting the resort on golfing business. In the mid-1930s, Harry Colt’s globe trotting partner, Captain C. H. Alison, had been commissioned to layout a new course for the Kawana Hotel, and it was this chance encounter that dramatically influenced Inoue’s career path.

During his recovery from illness, Inoue witnessed the design and build of the world-famous Fuji course, which later prompted the young man to apprentice under established Japanese architect Kinya Fujita. Ironically, Fujita’s appetite for golf course design was also whetted when he met Alison twenty years earlier in 1914 as the Englishman was laying out the course for the Tokyo Golf Club. In 1919, after the First World War had ended, Fujita travelled to Britain to meet Alison again and to study his architectural techniques.

Inoue’s first commission as Fujita’s assistant was to construct a second course, known as the West, for the Kasumigaseki Country Club where Inoue was already a member. The modifications that Hugh Alison and American green keeper George Penglase carried out on the club’s original East course just after it opened in 1929 were not lost on Fujita and Inoue. They replicated many of the best features from the East on the West, fashioning a layout that remains every bit as challenging today as it was when first built.

It’s therefore no surprise that Captain Alison heavily influenced many of Inoue’s future designs.

Inoue worked for Fujita for nearly twenty years, where together they created the groundbreaking layout at Nasu – carved through heavily forested mountain terrain – before he eventually started his own design company.

Long before the phase “cookie-cutter” had been coined to describe modern post war designs, older Japanese courses were already too formulaic. According to Inoue: “Japanese golf courses are largely block styled, while courses in Europe and the USA are handcrafted sympathetically using the natural contours of the land.”

Inoue used his lay-of-the-land design approach at the sandy, seaside Oarai in 1953. Sadly the club has allowed the course to become overgrown and a questionable greens renovation has removed Inoue’s original design intent. Writing in the Confidential Guide to Golf Courses Tom Doak believes, “it has the potential to be a course like nothing else in Japan, if only they’d let someone restore it appropriately with selective clearing and work on the detailing.”

Doak also states that: “Ryugasaki is the best-preserved example of Seiichi Inoue’s work in Japan, as the club has maintained his original design, including the two smallish greens for each hole. We admire their perseverance. The holes fit the topography like a glove, with lots of shots played across valleys.”

Very little is known about Seiichi Inoue’s private life, he’s even a mystery within Japan. A Japanese blog did however report that Inoue preferred “beautiful things rather than beautiful women,” and his design concepts relate to the “flowing lines of a female body.”


The following edited extract is from the website:

“Kasumigaseki West was Inoue’s first project as a designer. He followed up Kasumigaseki with courses in Kanagawa, Tochigi, and Ibaraki. Eight of Inoue’s first ten courses were in the Kanto area and included Nasu Golf Club (1936) and Hitachi Golf Club (1936).

Inoue’s first post-war course was the Awase Meadows Golf Club in Okinawa in 1948, but then he returned to Kanto to work on Kawasaki International Country Club and Oarai.

While he continued to create masterpieces in the Kanto Region, he also started to make his mark in the west of Japan. The 1950s and ’60s saw him reach his peak as a designer, completing 26 courses in those two decades.

One of his most well-known courses in the Kinki Region is Ise Country Club, close to Ise Shrine, the spiritual centre of Japan. In typical Inoue style, the course challenges the golfer with its natural contours and varied terrain.

Inoue’s toughest two courses were both in the west of Japan. Mie Prefecture’s Kuwana Country Club, which he designed in 1960, is rated at 74.8, while Aichi Country Club is not far behind at 74.7

Another tough course in the west is Nishinomiya Country Club, which has the Ni River running through it, while for the more spectacular, Inoue created two of the three courses for the Seta Club, sandwiched between Lake Biwa and Mt. Hiei.

When he outlined the design process for the Ryugasaki Golf Club – one of his masterpieces that opened in 1958 – he set the template for Japanese golf course design as follows:

  • A course should be designed to be friendly for players;
  • Holes should be laid out so as to be overcome with strategy and planning;
  • Every hole must appear differently. Holes should not be boring. They must always give players a taste of something new;
  • With a beautiful natural setting, the course should not only have great form but should also transport the player to a kind of paradise;
  • Golfers are required to master every type of shot.

Inoue died in 1981 at the age of 73, but even death couldn’t stop him. Three of his designs were completed in the years following his death, including one of his best, Hamano Golf Club in Chiba Prefecture. In 2003, a coffee-table picture book was published celebrating the beauty of the 38 golf courses he created. For many, his courses were indeed a work of art.”

Notable Courses



Nagoya, Aichi

Ibaraki (East)

Ibaraki (East)

Ibaraki, Osaka

Ibusuki (Kaimon)

Ibusuki (Kaimon)

Ibusuki, Kagoshima



Tamaki, Mie

Katsuragi (Yamana)

Katsuragi (Yamana)

Fukuroi, Shizuoka

Musashi (Sasai)

Musashi (Sasai)

Iruma, Saitama

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Harry Colt

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