Golf in Niseko, Asia's Answer to Whistler

When you think of Hokkaido it usually brings up images of pristine powder snow topped mountains and vast flat wide open expanses, but when the snowfields turn to green meadows, golf takes center stage and the people here trade in their boards for sticks.


Situated at 43degrees N latitude Niseko is as mild in summer as southern Portland Oregon in the U.S., "Eugene" to be exact! And when you look eastward towards Europe on the same parallel, guess what? Nice and Monaco!!... It's even south of the Bordeaux wine region in France!! This makes for average summer temperatures of a comfortable, dry 21.7 degrees C. even in August when the rest of Japan is cooking! Niseko is, with out a doubt, a four season resort poised to become an international destination and potentially the first Whistler quality resort in Asia!

With that in mind, there are few better places in the world to build a golf course, and in the late '80s and early '90s, build they did. The bubble economy brought with it huge amounts of investment in golf and resort infrastructure that remains there today. Hokkaido currently boasts 172 courses that offer at least 18 holes, and many courses with 36+! That's more than 30% of all the courses in the home of golf, Scotland, and the same number courses that existed in mainland China until early 2005...in one prefecture!!

Although Niseko's golf courses evoke the feel and quality of a resort golf destination, they lack the pretentiousness that so often accompanies such exclusivity. The fresh air and clear views of Mt. Yotei (basically a perfectly formed mini Mt. Fuji!) from almost every course, coupled with a relaxed pace of play, really helps you let your guard down and enjoy the natural splendor of the surroundings. All the courses are bordered by silver Birch trees and chest deep "Sasa" (a bushy member of the bamboo family) that offer picturesque scenery, but love to eat golf balls! The courses are lush, green and playable even in as little as one week after the snow melts in early May! This is due to the use of predominantly bent Kentucky bluegrass in the area that doesn't go dormant in winter.

Also check out the new www.nisekogolf.com site for packaged golf vacation options.

Niseko Tokyu Golf
The best golf in the valley! A good variety of challenging and fair holes giving it a well balanced feel. Opened in 1988, this course is situated next to the Hanazono ski resort, and offers spectacular views of nearby Mt Yotei. Four tee grounds and strategically placed water hazards add to the challenge. Also there are new carts to help wiz you around!
Niseko Village Golf Course
Two courses just minutes from the village of Hirafu that feature bent greens and immaculately groomed fairways. Enjoy views of the ski hill, on one side, and Mt. Yotei on the other with glimpses of rolling potato fields through Silver Birch forests. The Prince course is a 6,845 yard Par 73 course and the Higashiyama course is shorter at 5,768 yards and is a Par 71
Niseko Golf Course
Designed by Arnold Palmer and just a 15-minute drive from Hirafu, this course is the undisputed locals favorite and has no extra charge for two-somes and even singles are allowed to tee it up for a mere 2000yen extra charge! 6805 yards from the tips, Niseko Golf Course is a great course to soak up the surrounding scenery. The famous par three 5th signature hole demands an accurate shot over a pond with Mt Yotei as a back drop.


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