Japan's Best: Good, not great.
5 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: - Park located on a major railway
- Numbered tee signs with distances
- Full 18 with an additional short short 9 for beginners.
- Mach 3 baskets
- Many "long" holes that require a variety of discs
- The course is landscaped
- Multiple bathrooms, snack bar, and even showers on location.
- Close to the beach
Cons: - Pay Park, pay parking
- Multi use park can get busy with pedestrians
- The course is not properly indicated on park map, no map for individual hole layouts
- Holes 1 through 9 do not sync up with hole's 11 through 18
- Blind tees near pedestrian walking pathways
- Natural tee pads
- There were obstructions very close to the pad on the short holes
- Excessively overgrown and narrow fairways on some short holes
- No ceiling preventing you from going up and over for many of the holes
- Baskets blend into the background. They desperately need a splash of color
- No elevation change
Other Thoughts: TRAVEL
I traveled here from Tokyo via the Shinkansen on a four day weekend to see the city and throw. The Shinkansen train tickets costed a little over 500$ round trip for 2 people. The nice thing about the train is that there's not security checkpoints to bog you down, the train cars are spacious, and the views are amazing. You simply go to the station, buy a ticket, and get on a train, that's it. I defiantly prefer train to plane.
Here is the regular travel route from Fukuoka's Hakata station , which was the destination station of our ride on the Shinkansen from Tokyo. Start at Hakata Station, ride to Kashi on the Kagoshima line, transfer at Kashii and ride the Kashii line to Saitozaki. Saitozaki is not the first stop at the park, but it is the closest to the DG course.
There is also a free semi-cheating free way to get from Hakata station to the park. The Luigan Hotel Resort has a free shuttle that picks up at Hakata station. Their hotel is directly across from the Uminonakamichi rail station, which is a single stop away from Saitozaki station and technically an entrance into the park. If you can keep a straight face and walk away when you get out it probably saves you about 920¥ round trip for Hakata station. My wife and I stayed at the Luigan Resort, it's more of a 2 star than a 5 star (FYI)
There's a friendly group of players that oversee the running of the course inside the park. I might have been able navigate the park regardless of there not being a map and found all the holes myself, but decided to contact the most recent reviewer and prodded him for information instead. Andy is pretty much the American/English speaking POC for the course. He showed us the course, much fun ensued.
It's not normal to find a course in Japan where a player can use their full tourney bag set up. You would be hard-pressed to find even temp course tournaments that have fairway layouts as competitive as Fukuoka's regular set up. I spent two days throwing on the course, one regular and the other from alternate tees during a monthly league event.
The park has a lot of usable land to work with, which adds to the course versatility. The league has a shack near hole #1 where they store supplies and portable baskets that we used for the safari-type layout.
Even though I throughly enjoyed one of Japan's top courses, it's important to keep it all in prospective. Sadly, Japan's best is still very average when compared to American courses. It was a little bit of a let down. The teepads are natural, rutted, uneven, and sometimes buried in thick over growth. I hate this the most out of all the cons. I've yet to play any tournament or regular course, besides the Japan Open, that has halfway decent tees. If it rains you're especially screwed......it rained the first day.
Many of the holes have wide open fairways that lack ceilings. Nothing prevents you from just throwing over sections for the course. The long holes lacked obstacles that shape fairways. Other holes were short and feature impossibly tight fairways of overgrowth from lack of tree maintenance. Hole 5 is especially ridiculous. Nothing is worse than having a short hole that you can't ace run. I swear, the Japanese have some sort of weird phobia of trimming fairway branches. The areas of the park that were near other park activities were well groomed, while the specifically disc golf related areas were neglected and overgrown. Also, the baskets are not all uniform height and impossible to see from lack of flags or coloring.
Another thing I wasn't wild about was throwing over water just to throw over water (holes 8&9) . I don't mind hazards, however there are much better sections of the park that could be developed instead that don't involve paying tribute to the man-made pond gods. The water is too deep and murky to find your disc once it takes a dip, unless it floats. As a note of caution, not all lightweight discs float.
Normally, courses in Japan are short and relatively unremarkable. This course stands out because of its variety of hole length and versatility of alternate hole layouts. NGP Umi-no-naka-michi Kaihin may not blow your socks off, but truly is Japan's best permanent course and is worth checking out.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.
10 Helpful / 0 Not
One of best courses in Japan
Pros: This is a big course by Japanese standards. The average hole is around 90 yards, with 2 or three well over 100 yards in length. If that is not long enough for you, especially on the back nine there are many holes where you can just decide a tee position further back. In general, the front nine holes are tighter and more technical than the back, with both 8 and 9 being short shots over water to a pin on the right--good holes for forehand players, tough for backhand only shooters. The location of this course is awesome: in a huge national park in the middle of the ocean off Fukuoka; the park has many amenities like bathrooms, restaurants, a big ferris wheel, etc. The course is located in the "big grass area" in the middle of the park past the ferris wheel--next to number one tee is a small snack bar that sells food, drinks, and also rents frisbees for a few bucks per round.
Cons: There is zero awareness of disc golf in Japan, and the visitors to this park have no idea when they are walking or picnicking in the middle of a hole--the fact that the course features no warning signs of any kind makes the situation worse. So, you have to really watch out for people--this situation is even more severe on weekends, especially during spring and fall, when the park is busy. The only other major negative feature--one shared by almost every course in Japan--is that there are no cement tee pads. What you will find near the excellent course signs at each tee area are simulated logs bolted into the grass--maybe only 2 or 3 feet long. Players here throw from behind or to the side of these markers, but since they really don't do much, as I mentioned above you can easily just move back 10 or 20 yards to make the holes longer as you like. Most of the park is nicely mowed lawn, so you can get a decent run up for your shot most of the time.
Other Thoughts: Most American players I know are only aware of the Japan Open played outside of Tokyo, but there are many cool places to visit in Japan, and Fukuoka is one of the best. Think of a coastal city about the size of Seattle with great beaches and much lower prices than Tokyo. While this course is probably only of average quality when compared to many american courses, in Japan it is a four star course, and many say it is the best in the country. In fact, I am moving to Fukuoka this April just so I can play it regularly!
10 of 10 people found this review helpful.
11 Helpful / 0 Not
Pros: The fact that this course exists is a plus, Japan doesn't seem to have many. I'm really not qualified to write a review for this course since I was only able to play the back nine, but since there were no other reviews; I thought I might as well. The holes I did play were fairly easy; not too long and fairly open. I think I pared almost every hole. It would be hard to lose a disc here (although the front nine did appear to have water hazard(s).
Cons: This course is in a multi use park, when I played, non-playing pedestrians were a major issue. The front nine was completely occupied as a staging area for a running event that day which prevented play. I was disappointed there were no locals playing and no pro shop open, but this was probably due to the running event. Also, there was a large group of toddlers on some sort of nature walk, that were totally oblivious to our presence (invisible Gaijin). The thought of hitting a Japanese toddler with a disc was horrifying enough for us to wait patiently for them to clear the area
Other Thoughts: After a 3-4 hour trip (from Sasebo city), when we showed our discs to the ticket seller (course is located in a 400Y fee park), we were told "Dame" with crossed arms which means "totally bad/no way". We went ahead and paid admission anyway since we had come so far just to check it out. Luckily we were able to play the back nine, but overall it was a disappointment. I would recommend (having someone who speaks Japanese) calling first before making a long journey to play this course.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
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