Oarai Golf Club

Course Data
LocationIbaragi, Japan
Yardage7190 yards Par 72
Course Rating74.4
Playing Date13 Oct. 2004
DesingnerSeiichi Inoue
Caddy Yes
Golf Cart No
Overall Rating
Course Layout
Difficulty Level
Greens Conditions
Fairways Conditions
Landscaping & Views

The course is a seaside forest course facing the Pacific Ocean. It is characterized by long fairways lined by age-old tall pine trees, some very difficult dog-leg holes and undulating big greens. Relentless wind from the ocean influences the game. All holes except the 16th par 3 are set parallel to the seashore. Years of sea winds blowing through each hole created artistic designs on pine branches. As a result, the big pines hang over fairways severely on many holes and act as “ hazards in the air”, limiting the fairways. Consequently, you are forced under considerable visual pressure. Fairway bunkers are very few in spite of the Seiichi Inoue design. This is due to the fact that pines seemingly form more severe hazards than fairway bunkers. Also he did not have to make them because in fact the course was developed on the seashore and sea sands were chopped out everywhere through the greens. You need to not only hit very accurate tee shots to either half of the narrow fairways but also have full command of low balls, fades and draws in order to make a good score.

Seashore seen from 17th tee

Seashore seen from 18th hole

1st  Par 4 442 yards

1st  Par 4 442 yards (2)

1st  Par 4 442 yards (1)
A relatively long, straight par 4. The original narrow fairway looks narrower closer to the green because of big pines hanging over the fairway on both sides.
4th  Par 3 165 yards

4th green

4th  Par 3 165 yards
A beautiful par 3 with the well bunkered green.

5th  Par 4 450 yards
A long, par 4 that doglegs slightly to the right. You will be very happy with a par on this hole. Big pines hang over the right side of the fairway. If you slice your tee shot, even a little, you will find the ball in the trees and end up losing a stroke. Unless you drive to the left side of the fairway, you can’t aim the green on the second shot. Though you hit the green on regulation, when the ball is far away from the pin position, there is a risk of a 3 putt because of the strong slope from back to the front green.

5th hole seen from the green

5th  Par 4 450 yards (2)

5th  Par 4 450 yards (1)
6th  Par 4 348 yards

6th  Par 4 348 yards (2)

6th  Par 4 348 yards (1)
A short par 4. If your tee shot is over 240 yards, the second is a demanding downhill lie which you must carry over a deep bunker guarding the front of the green. If the drive is less than 225 yards, you need to hit the second shot from the uphill lie, which calls for a difficult distance judgment. If fact, even lie of the landing area is only 15 yards and, even if you land there, you must hit exactly 100 yards for birdie on the next shot especially when the pin is on the front and close to the bunker. When you are short ever a little, it will be difficult to save par. Positioning is very important on this hole.

7th  Par 5 573 yards
A slight “S” shaped, long par 5. You need to hit a long drive off the tee aiming the left side of the fairway. That’s the only spot you can have a clear view of the green as pines from both sides obstruct your approach onto the green. A long hitter hit over the right pines on the second shot which requires height as well as distance.

7th green

7th  Par 5 573 yards (2)

7th  Par 5 573 yards (1)

9th  Par 4 445 yards
This dogleg to the righ hole is difficult, too. There are some pines 80 yards in front of the green hanging over the fairway from the left, so the best landing area of the tee shot is the right side of the fairway. The bunker in front of the green comes into play.

9th hole seen from the green

9th  Par 4 445 yards (2)

9th  Par 4 445 yards (1)

11th  Par 4 390 yards

11th  Par 4 390 yards (2)

11th  Par 4 390 yards (1)
A good, slight dogleg to the right with the elevated tee. You like to draw the tee shot to carry it to the center of the green.

13th  Par 4 438 yards

13th  Par 4 438 yards (2)

13th  Par 4 438 yards (1)
A relatively long par 4 with the narrow fairway. Bunkers on the front left & right sides of the green wait for your errant second shot.

14th  Par 3 192 yards

14th  Par 3 192 yards
The green looks smaller because of a deep bunker on the front right of the green. The relatively short pines on both sides allow wind to influence the shots. Wind definitely increases the difficulty level on this hole.

15th  Par 5 571 yards
A straight par 5. You need to pay attention to a pond on the right around 100 yards in front of the green when you hit the second shot. You should avoid the big and deep bunker in front of the green. Despite the bunker and the pine tree over it provide a great scenery.

A vew around 15th green

15th  Par 5 571 yards (2)

15th  Par 5 571 yards (1)

17th  Par 4 456 yards

17th  Par 4 456 yards (2)

17th  Par 4 456 yards (1)
A long, slight dogleg to the left. The best route off the tee is to hit next to the pines on the left but if your errant shot goes inside the left pines, you will have a big trouble. You should drive a left to rihgt ball or a straight ball buzzing the left pines. If you slice it too much off the tee, the ball goes inside the right pines, which makes the second shot very difficult. There is a hallow guarding the left side of the green, so a left to rigt ball is ideal on the approach shot. Pay also attention to the right pines in front of the green on the approach shot.

18th  Par 4 437 yards

18th  Par 4 437 yards (2)

18th  Par 4 437 yards (1)
A gentle uphill, slight dogleg to the right. The trees hanged over on the right give you pressure on the tee shot. A carry of 270 yard drive is needed to clear the left fairway bunker, so a right to left ball is ideal off hte tee. The Pacific Ocean seen from this hole is magnificent.

19th hole
It takes one hour and 30 minutes from central Tokyo by car. Visitors need an introduction from a member to play on weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays you need to be accompanied by a member. The clubhouse didn’t have air-conditioning and it seems to be cool even in summer because of the sea winds.

Most of the distinguished golf clubs in Japan allow players to play from the longest tees only if they are accompanied by a single-handicapped member. Although this is the one of most difficult course in Japan, we, were able to play from the longest tees, which we appreciated a lot.
The pine trees in the front 9 are shorter than in the back 9. Because the front 9 are close to the ocean, the stronger see winds disturbed the growth of the pine trees.

Seichi Inoue is the most famous Japanese golf course architect who designed 40 courses in Japan and 2 courses overseas. The Oarai GC is his best work. Seiichi was greatly inspired by Charles Alison, a designer of the world-famous Hirono and Kawana (Fuji Course). Seiichi stayed at Kawana Hotel in his medical treatment at 22 years old, and Charles coincidentally just completed the Fuji Course. They didn’t meet but the greatness of Fuji Course had him aspire to be a course designer. While influenced by Charles Allison, Sinichi perused his original course designs to meet the natural features of Japan.

The greens are huge considering the course was built a long time ago. The owner requested the designer to adopt 2-green system per hole because of better greens maintenance but Seiichi Inoue insisted 1-green and refused 2-green firmly. Consequently, the amazing compromise plan was to make one green very big and divided into 2 with different grasses, bent and Kourai, and then to use half of it alternately. All greens were replaced by bent grass 1-green in late 1980. We can enjoy the current, excellent greens thanks to the unique history.

The course was awarded 3rd place out of 2400 courses in 2002’s Japanese golf course rankings sponsored by Japan Golf Classic Magazine. The other great courses in Japan designed by Siichi Inoue are Takanodai CC, Ryugasaki CC, Outone CC, Kasumigaseki CC – West Course, Katsuragi GC, Ibusuki GC, and Ibaragi CC - West Course, Sappro GC - Wattsu Course, etc. He also designed TAT Filipinas GC in the Philippines. Among top 100 Japanese golf course rankings, Seiichi Inoue has the most with 17. Second is Robert Trent Jones Jr., (10), third is Jack Nicklaus (7), and fourth is Osamu Ueda (6).