Naruo Golf Club opened its course in 1920 but in 1931 the club availed itself of the services of itinerant English architect C.H. Alison. In his one sojourn in Japan, Alison worked on the Fuji course at Kawana Hotel, the East course at Kasumigaseki Country Club, Tokyo Golf Club (the Asaka course was destroyed during the war and never rebuilt), Hirono Golf Club near Osaka as well as remodelling projects at Ibaraki GC and Naruo GC.
All the courses share some themes, most notably small, round greens which are often elevated and large “welcoming” irregular shaped bunkers with pronounced front lips. Naruo also features some elevation changes but not nearly as much as Kawana where the cliff side landscape is more extreme.
At 6,564 yards from the back tees, Naruo can no longer be considered a long course, but length would new have been the principle defence of par. The greens are small and when the pins are placed close to the edges, it brings the hazards into play. Even if you miss the large bunkers which tend to sit well below the surface of the green, you will find yourself in tangly rough and all the uncertainty of result that comes from playing from it.
Naruo shares all the traditional aspects of Japan’s older clubs. The continuity in tradition here is maintained by the 700 members whose average age is 71. Despite being over 70 years old in its revamped guise, the thoughts behind the design feel fresh and communicate clearly. As with all good Alison designs, the approach shots to the greens have a tremendous sense of occasion that you only find on the world’s greatest courses.
The above passage is an edited extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.