The East and the West are two outstanding golf courses at Kasumigaseki Country Club. East or West, which is best? We’re really not too sure, but the East is the one that the members generally favour, so we think it’s prudent to stick with those in the know.
Kasumigaseki Country Club was founded in 1929. Kinya Fujita and Shiro Akaboshi, two gifted local golfers, originally designed the first course, now known as the East, and it was ready for play the same year. The members were clearly dissatisfied with the original design so Harry Colt’s partner Charles Alison was soon commissioned to improve matters. Alison’s changes to Kasumigaseki immediately gained the utmost respect from Japanese golfers and he is now widely considered to be the guiding light of Japanese golf course architecture.
So, what did Alison actually do at Kasumigaseki to gain cult status? The answer is simple. He built cavernous bunkers. The par three 10th is a perfect example and this hole is possibly the finest par three in Japan. This was a good hole in the beginning – a 180-yard one-shotter across water to a relatively small green – but Alison turned it into a great hole. Originally, the bunker protecting the front of the green was little more than a shallow scrape by the time Alison had finished it was six feet deep and this is the general theme behind his improvements to the East course.
The East employs the traditional Japanese dual green system, one for the winter and one for the summer, which takes a bit of getting used if you’re not familiar with this feature. We guess it’s akin to designing the course with permanent winter greens rather than simply plonking a hole in the fairway… not a bad idea if there’s enough space.
If you can get a game here, we thoroughly recommend a round on both the East and the West courses, you can then make up your own minds as to which courses is best.
Tom and Logan Fazio are currently overseeing the renovation of the East course ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
April 20, 2014