Golf is one of the flexible sports that has different scoring systems as well as rules and regulations depending on where you go. In most countries, this tie in with the local culture and change accordingly as you travel across the world to play golf. With Golf having become one of the most popular sports in the Land of the Rising Sun, trailing behind the other two modern sports of Football and Baseball, it comes a little surprise that the Japanese golf pioneers have put their own little spin on the sport, which is of course in line with their cultural diversity.
Let’s highlight some differences between Japan’s golfing tradition and the rest of the world. Prior to tee-off, most things stay the same, except that most Japanese courses provide lockers for their players to keep valuables in. In addition you will be given a card corresponding to your locker, which can be used for purchases at the pro-shop or cafe, to be paid after you play.
The real differences start when you’re half way through your round of hitting the greens. After 9 holes it is often customary to have a lunch together with your fellow golfers. This is generally not done in the west, but is a pretty big thing in Japan and skipping it is frowned upon. It is generally a good idea to indulge in the beer or coffee, as they are meant to relax you and loosen up your swing for the back nine.
Now really interesting is what happens after the 18th hole. There is normally a post-round communal hot bath in a hot-spring powered onsen. The aforementioned locker will contain slippers for you to replace your shoes with. You keep your clothes on as you make your way to the baths, but bring a spare change of clothes with you. In the bath area, you take off your slippers and go to one of the changing areas with baskets. Change your clothes and grab a small towel and make sure it is a small one as taking a big one is a big breach of protocol. Proceed to either the western-style showers or do it in the style of the true Japanese and go to one of the open bathing areas. Here, you sit on a little stool and wash yourself rigorously before washing off and relaxing in a pool of hot water.
First image by mydemoninyou.blogspot.com
Second image by agoda.com