Western sports are, for some reason, Japan’s favorites. It surprises many that visit the country when they find out that of all the sports, Baseball is the single most popular across the nation, with the international sport of Soccer (football) being a close second. What surprises visitors even more than that is that Golf is among the top 3, if one ignores the traditional sport of Sumo wrestling. With the rise in popularity, Golf is more accessible than ever in Japan – as evidenced by the over 2000 courses one can play on across the nation. Of course, every hobby golfer knows that Golf is a very time-consuming sport and not many can afford to hone their skills by going out for a 6 hour round on the regular – thus, the importance, and availability, of driving ranges has become all the more prevalent.
There are many driving ranges in Japan, and close to 100 alone in the Tokyo area, meaning that there is a high chance of one simply discovering one by just getting lost in the city. One of the problems with this is that while there are many driving ranges in Tokyo and its are, due to space constraints, they often are limited in length, with most maxing out at 100 yards – which while great for practicing one’s swing and technique, is not ideal for seeing the results of a good hit and limiting players to practising irons and clubs meant for lower ranges.
One good place to head to in Tokyo for getting some decent practise in is the Kasai Rinkai Koen Driving Range. This one is rather large, especially in comparison to some other ones – there are 300 booths available, spread out over 3 floors, making it one of the most impressive sights for an inexperienced golfer to see. The range is only 30 minutes of out Tokyo’s inner city and spans a whooping 250 yards – shooting any farther than that and you’re likely creeping into the lower levels of handicap in the sport of golf. This particular driving range is generally rather busy and packed with golfers around the clock, even around 10pm one can find it a struggle to find a free booth. One impressive feature here is that the range is almost completely automated – there aren’t even any clunky trucks driving around the range to pick up balls, as the range is constructed in a clever way that balls will roll into feeding system which will bring them back straight to the booths.
First image by dylangoestokyo.com
Second image by shibuya246 on flickr.com