Built on the site of a former cedar tree farm, an hour’s drive west of downtown Tokyo, the course at Tokyo Classic was more than a decade in the making. Construction began in March of 2006 but the financial global downturn in 2008 put the project on hold until new owners acquired the site and work recommenced in January of 2014. It then took the best part of three years before the course was finally ready for play.
The tree-lined fairways are laid out on a gently rolling, free-draining site where a sizeable creek comes into play on several occasions, most notably at holes 3, 4 and 11. Tees and fairways are seeded with Zoysia, putting surfaces are carpeted with bent grass and fine fescues are used to fringe bunker faces and accent the more open areas.
The client (who also operates the Hokkaido Classic course outside Sapporo) requested a layout that would be a fun, member-friendly course but also one that the best players in the world could enjoy. To satisfy that brief, the Nicklaus Design team provided a good mix of holes, requiring golfers to play just about every club in their bag.
There are no overtly blind shots to speak of but there’s a "peek-a-boo" green on the par three 12th where the right half of the putting surface is hidden in a bit of a punchbowl, though golfers can easily see the flag. There’s plenty of positioning required off the tee and with approach shots to the par fives to gain the best angle into the green.
Highlight holes include the short par four 2nd and the longer 9th, where an extra tee has been installed to allow the hole to play as a drivable par four if required on certain competition days. On the back nine, the 11th is a tough, slightly uphill par four that normally plays into the wind with a bluff running along the entire right side of the hole.
Interestingly, Tokyo Classic Golf Club is the first country club in Japan with equestrian facilities, including horse riding club and polo fields.
Once in Japan there was also a golf course in a race track, however, there was no country club combining horse-riding facilities, a polo arena and golf. The Tokyo Classic Club is the first country club in Japan with golf, stables and a Kleingarten.
Located a one-hour drive from central of Tokyo, this Signature Jack Nicklaus course is laid out in an elegant cedar forest, where horse trails are set around the golf course.
From the start of the project to the completion, Nicklaus visited the site eight times in total and he attempted to change the design several times on the back 9.
Tokyo Classic Club is a country club of new leaders of contemporary Japan's economic circle and it has a full membership with 601 members. As an honorary member, Jack Nicklaus has a Jack's Room in the clubhouse, where his personal locker and desk are installed. Visitors need to be accompanied by members to enter the clubhouse. Tokyo Classic is building a separate clubhouse and pro shop for guests who are not accompanied but are referred by members on weekdays.
Another family oriented facility is set up, a small Kleingarten – the club’s family members enjoy growing vegetables and flowers.
On December 8, Tokyo Classic officially opens and will hold a grand opening ceremony. However, many golf course raters have already played this course, and they have evaluated it within the Top 15 of Japan.