The hilly course at Higashi Hirono is a 1989 Yukichi Kobayashi creation which staged the 2012 Panasonic Open, won by the architect’s namesake Masanori Kobayashi. The event returned to the club seven years later, with Toshinori Muto’s 21-under par total giving him a four-stroke victory against the field.
Highlight holes include the right doglegging par five 5th (rated stroke index 1); the par three 7th where the back-to-front sloping green is fronted by a lake; the very long par four 13th with a zelkova tree in the fairway as it approaches the three-tiered green; and the par five closer which has ponds on either side of the fairway as it narrows towards the home green.
Higashi Hirono hosted US Open Sectional Qualifying in 2016, when the upturned saucer-shaped island green on the slightly downhill 3rd hole created all sorts of problems for the professionals.
Higashi Hirono Golf Club is a hilly course which was designed by incorporating the surrounding elements of the natural landscape. The course also offers a fun challenge because of the variety of holes. With a total length of 7158 yards, the course offers a constant journey of breathtaking moments due to the variety of good holes. Especially four the par threes are superb. Yukichi Kobayashi picked the four good locations for par 3s first before completing the overall routing. The designer believed that the more distinctive par 3s are, the better the other par 4s and par 5s will stand out. The greens are fast with a lot of undulations. Higashi Hirono hosted the Panasonic Open in 2012 and 2019 on the Japan and Asian PGA Tour.
Mr. T. Inui, who served as the president of the world famous Hirono GC for many years, tried to build something that is comparable to Hirono GC in 1980s. The course named as Higashi (east) Hirono because it is located only 2.5 miles east of Hirono GC. The par 3 183-yard 3rd is a signature hole. With a slightly downhill shot, players hit onto a shallow island green. Since the green is only 25 yards deep, the selection of the right club will be essential. The par 3 188-yard 7th is a beautiful hole where water as well as several bunkers guard the green. The green slopes from the back towards the pond in the foreground.
The par 3 200-yard is another scenic par 3 over a pond. The green is shallow and triple tiered. The par 5 550-yard 18th is an excellent risk/reward hole. While the tee shot is not difficult, the second shot offers quite a challenge due to the narrowing fairway that are tightened by the ponds coming in on the both sides. The green is swung to the right, and is surrounded by a lake to its front and right sides. To read more about Higashi Hirono GC, click here to visit my website.