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GOLF GUIDE


former capitals Nara and Kyoto. For golfers who decide to take the plunge into this cultural and scenically diverse area, however, Mie rarely disappoints. One of Mie’s biggest assets is the variety it


offers. With more than 600 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, it’s no surprise that the sea is a key asset for the region. This inexorable relationship manifests


itself in a variety of ways. During our time in Mie we sample its famously oishi (delicious) seafood at numerous sushi restaurant and at an amagoya, a small wooden hut by the sea where some of the region’s freediving ama fisherwomen serve up a feast of fresh sashimi and grilled shellfish. Other seaside highlights,


meanwhile, include Mikimoto Pearl Island near the resort town of Toba, which is known as the birthplace of cultured pearl production, and the Yokoyama Viewpoint in Ise-Shima National Park, which supplies an unforgetable vista of the wild and rugged indented coastline. Yet Mie also repays those who head


inland. Indeed, its most famous draw is Ise Jingu, Japan’s most sacred Shinto shrine, which maintains an almost miraculous sense of peace


MIE’S TOP COURSES


TSU COUNTRY CLUB One of Mie’s most prestigious clubs, Tsu offers a fabulously pretty course as well as premium off-course facilities — including an excellent teppanyaki restaurant that majors in tender Matsusaka beef. Among the numerous course highlights are the long 4th, which plays slightly uphill and is framed by the surrounding mountains, and the closing hole which doglegs slightly around water. GREEN FEES: From £46.


FUJI OGM ISE OHTORI Offers a wealth of variation as well as some challenging holes. Indeed, the club has previously hosted Tiger Woods. The most picturesque of its holes is the short par-4 14th, which is played downhill giving the longest hitters a realistic chance of finding the green with an accurate drive. Other picks include the fiendish closing hole, which offsets a good opportunity for a birdie with a ball-hungry water hazard. GREEN FEES: From £40.


KINTETSU HAMAJIMA GOLF CLUB The sparkling water of Ago Bay is one of the stars of the show. Although the sea itself doesn’t come into play, it can be glimpsed at several holes — making its most spectacular appearance on the second nine at hole number 14. While the 14th is an undoubted visual highlight, golfers will appreciate the beautifully tended fairways and greens and the clubhouse, perched on top of a hill. GREEN FEES: From £60.


COCOPA RESORT CLUB With four fine courses offering plenty of stimulation, this welcoming club is ideal for holiday golf. Although the fairways are generous and the rough is light, the layouts aren’t without their difficulties. Indeed, the Hakusan Village Queen Course at the club has been used as a tournament venue for LPGA events and even hosted the Japan Senior Open Golf Championship in 2015. GREEN FEES: From £46.


and tranquillity despite atracting pilgrims and tourists from all over Japan as well as from many nearby countries. Other Mie visitor highlights, meanwhile,


include sampling premium sake at acclaimed brewers like Shimizu Seizaburo Shoten in the city of Suzuka, exploring ninja culture in the city of Iga — famous for producing some of the country’s most fearsome assassins — and sweating out toxins in a sandbath in the spa village of Sakakibara. This phenomenal diversity is also reflected


in the fantastic golfing possibilities found around the prefecture.


Ise Jingu, Shinto shrine


At Tsu Country Club the course is laid out


over a gorgeous chunk of rolling land with mature trees making almost every hole an island of solitude. The course at Kintetsu Hamajima is much more open with several of the holes offering a spectacular outlook over the brilliant blue ocean. More excellent golf can be found at the Cocopa Resort Club, which has a total of 72 holes with the challenge ranging vary from gentle to exacting depending on the chosen tees. At Fuji OGM Excellent Club Ise Ohtori,


meanwhile, the layout is a fusion of American and Japanese influences with thick native woodlands blending seamlessly with man-made lakes and expansive sand traps. It’s at the last-named club that


we round out our golfing odyssey in Mie. We’ve played 54 holes of golf, sunk countless more ice-cold Asahi beers and eaten our bodyweight in premium beef, fresh seafood and numerous other luminaries of the Japanese larder. The following day will bring a long-haul flight back to London, but for now a farewell feast awaits. In endlessly abundant Mie Prefecture, the pampering is never quite over.


188


ABTA Golf 2018


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