Review for Kawana (Fuji)

Reviewer Score:


Late November 2016 was a brief holiday in Japan which included checking out four golf courses within a few hours of Tokyo.

Kawana Hotel photo by David Worley

All were beautifully presented and considering it was well into autumn were in excellent condition.

Without doubt the standout course was the Kawana Hotel - Fuji Course, generally regarded as the No.2 course in Japanese rankings.

The Kawana Hotel, several hours south of Tokyo, is a lovely journey to the past with its art deco feel and superb out door facilities by way of two large swimming pools and two magnificent grass tennis courts all with stunning views toward the ocean.

Kawana Fuji - 1st hole from the elevated tee

The hotel was built in 1929 and the two golf courses followed around 6 years later.

You must be a guest at the hotel in order to play the Fuji Course designed by Charles Alison.

The opening par 4 plays from an elevated tee to a fairway below which bends right with the ocean as the background.

Much of the front 9 is tree lined with conifers and driving to position is essential in order to avoid many well placed fairway bunkers.

Kawana Fuji's beautifully bunkered 7th green

The course is quite hilly so club selection can be tricky.

Every hole is quite different and there are some quaint touches such as the bonsai pine in the middle of the 9th fairway.

Some courses in Japan require you to have a sit down meal after 9 holes.

At the Fuji Course you stop for a snack at the hut beside the 10th tee and allow the caddy a 5-10 minute break.

The female caddies are excellent. Just one handles all 4 sets of clubs in a motorised cart they walk behind.

Mt Fuji from the 11th hole

From the 11th there are several rather different looking holes with wider fairways and palms almost giving you the feeling you are in California. There are great views of the snow capped Mt Fuji in the distance.

The par 5, 11th winds down to the lighthouse at the far end of the course and then several holes play uphill along the clifftop before you reach the superb par 5, 15th.

Kawana Fuji par five 15th are we at Pebble Beach?

The tee is elevated with the heavily treed cliff edge immediately all along the left hand side all the way to the green. The hole is initially down hill and then curves left and up a steep hill. If you take on too much of the corner then you are looking at lost ball down the cliff or in the heavy vegetation.

The final par 3, the 16th , is a cracker and its elevated green ensures that it plays considerably longer than the 172 yards from the ‘regular’ tees. The round concludes with two tricky uphill par 4’s that are well bunkered.

You would be hard pressed not to enjoy this beautiful golf course.

David Worley

Date: February 04, 2017

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