Par 59 Challenge
1 Helpful / 1 Not
Pros: The upper disc golf course at Nasu Highlands Country Club is named Raijin after the God of Thunder. (It has also been nicknamed the Red or Purple course after the color of the custom basket wraps.)
Nasu HighlandsCountry Club has hosted the 2004 through 2014 Japan Open. The tournament is played on a two World Class Championship courses. The two disc golf courses cover the sprawling 13,000 yard Trent Jones designed 18-hole Golf Course. In the past, this event was played on a 27-hole course. In 2010, (in order to accommodate more players) 9 more holes were added and two 18-hole Championship Level courses were created. Raijin plays out on holes 1-9 of the golf course. In 2010, Holes 2, 5, 6, 14 and 17 were added to the original 13 holes on this section of the Nasu Highlands Course.
I used bullet points for those that don't want to read everything.
The Par 59 Raijin course is very challenging for golfers of all skill levels. All the traditional golf greens and sand traps are OB. On and across the cart path is OB on most holes. Even though most of the fairways are wide open and free of trees, the fairways are lined with tall trees on one side and OB cart paths on the other. Targets are often perched on hill sides and mounds surrounded by OB sand traps, golf greens and cart paths. While the holes may be long, pure distance is not necessary to score well. Accuracy and proper landing of drives and approaches is important to avoid taking unnecessary added strokes.
To avoid having to read my lengthy review, I will get right to the point. I rated both courses at Nasu Highlands with a 5. If there are any drawback to these courses it is the fact they are temporary and only exist during the week of the Japan Open Disc Golf Tournament. Otherwise the course design and amenities are top notch. It would be difficult to make improvements.
The private Nasu Highlands Country Club is an exclusive, first class operation. From the enormous castle-like clubhouse to the amazingly manicured fairways everything is top notch. The golf course is closed to ball golf players the week of the Japan Open.
This course is on a gorgeous piece of land that is completely manicured. From the valleys below to the mountains towering above, this course is breathtaking and amazingly beautiful. As you round another corner in the cart, your breath is taken away as you realize this vista is even more spectacular than the last. Overheard on most every tee at the Japan Open: "Wow, this is one of the most beautiful holes I have ever played in my life. "
Anytime you can ride a cart to play is a fantastic. It would be very difficult to play this course if you had to walk AND carry your bag. In addition to walking the long holes and all the up and down, there would be long walks between holes. Check out the course map and note that Holes 13, 14 & 15 are a total of 1,315 feet long and are all located on Hole 8 of the ball golf course.
Fantastic use of Elevation changes.
Nearly every hole is playing up or down hill. On top of that, most of the targets are also perched on hillsides or mounds to add to the challenge. I have played very few courses that offer such a variety of elevation changes. Some elevation is quite extreme as found in the downhill signature Hole 12.
All tees for the disc golf course are temporary rubber mats. At least half of the tees make use of the ball golf tee areas. The rest of the tees are on level grass. There are two styles of mats in use: traditional solid 5 x 12 mats and 6 x 9 rubber mats with the honeycomb holes. The honeycomb mats performed the best during the rainy weather conditions and were not as harmful to the grass beneath.
The course is already spotless and well maintained. The Hero staff adds tons of extras to the experience. All the OB's were clearly marked and extra rope was installed throughout the course. In addition to tee signs on every hole, there were a ton of event banners throughout the course adding extra professionalism. Caddy Books were provided with accurate course information and maps in English and Japanese. There were plenty of volunteers to spot on the course and cheer on the players.
The clubhouse has some of the most luxurious restrooms and locker rooms I have ever seen. There are restrooms in several of the lightning shelters and rest houses that are located throughout the course.
The Hero staff at the Japan Open make playing these courses even more enjoyable. From all the extra work they do on the courses, to the friendly spotters and helpers, no details are overlooked.
Cons: It is difficult to think of some cons:
The first weeks in June are the traditional start of the rainy season in Nasu-Shiobara. That means it often rains for one or more days during the Japan Open when the disc golf course is available for play.
Course only exists during the week of the Japan Open. I would normally hesitate to give a temporary course a 5 disc rating, however, this course is Championship caliber and this country club and facilities are top of the line.
Japan Open Bucket List.
The Japan Open is an amazing International Event that rivals the United States Disc Golf Championships and the European Open. Even though the event attracts the top players in the world, it is open to all International PDGA members.(Japanese players must qualify to play) The Japan Open should be on every disc golfers' bucket list.
I think it would be rude to Kozo Shimbo-san and the entire Hero event staff to award any less than five discs for this amazing disc golf course. The only way this course could be improved would be to exist year round.
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