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Japan Golfing During Covid-19 Your guide to stay safe and enjoy the game!

Japan was ready for an awesome golf season. An unusually mild January and February saw the courses full, and we were looking forward to more of the same with the sakura season, early summer, and then the Olympics where we knew many visitors would also give golf a go.... 2020 was set to be a momentous year for Japan Golf. We all know what happened next, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Since then we are doing our best to self-isolate, work from home, distance learning, and so on, and Japan has been stand-out in terms of flattening the curve. 

The number of cases of Covid-19 are falling in Japan, and a likely lifting of the state of emergency as early as next week in all prefectures is expected, we dare to dream of hitting the links and enjoying the sport we hold so dear. But the 'New Normal' is here, and golf can be enjoyed as it finds itself in one of the safe sports lists. But there are a few things to remember:

Getting to the course and who you play with

Playing with your pod or family and heading to a course by car is a no-brainer, but if your family doesn't play golf, perhaps now is a great time to learn. In Fact, with distance learning in effect for kids why not spend a few days at one of the courses which operate villas or glamping and isolate yourself in style! The courses are not busy, particularly the ones further from the large cities so they are lenient about taking kids on the course and slower pace of play. 

If you are playing with friends it would be better for everyone to drive/make their way separately, but if you need to take the train then remember to:
- Travel super early to avoid busy trains
- Wear a mask
- Bring alcohol hand gel and if possible alcohol wipes 
- Send your clubs in advance with Golfkyubin (check Yamato transport's English site here)
- Ask the course to pick you up 
- Pack some food 


1. Through game
Previously impossible in Japan, most courses made you stop for lunch after 9, but now play through is a possible option. When booking make sure to say that you want to play through 'スループレイーおねがいします' (suroo play onegaishimasu) 

2. Stop for lunch?
It is best to forgo the habitual lunch, instead bring some food in your bag. However some courses will add the lunch fee on expecting you to eat after play, but if you don't want this option say: 'ごはんなしできますか?'(Gohan nashi dekimasuka?) Of course, if you want to stop for lunch or have it after then just avoid buffets and sit with appropriate distance from other groups.

3. Caddy
With everyones safety paramount, it is best to have no caddy where possible, when booking say: セルフプレイおねがいします (self play onegaishimasu).

On course etiquette and precautions

When playing a round the new normal for safety includes the following:

1. Cart
It may not be possible to walk the course, especially if it is a hilly course or with big intervals. so remember to:
- Wipe the cart with alcohol as best you can
- Have fixed seats and drink holders for each player
- Keep distance from other players particularly when taking out clubs
- Keep your mask on unless you are far away from other players

2. Avoid touching anywhere other people have
- Don't touch flagsticks, leave it in when putting. 
- Don't touch rakes, instead, take your ball out of bunkers for no penalty
- If you hit a good shot, do an air 5! or say ナイスショー!(Nice shot!) Also after the game, a Japanese-style bow will replace the handshake, or if that's too weird just touch elbows.

3.No Bath, head home!
As much as we love hitting the bath afterward, it is best to head home. Although Onsen water is sure to kill all viruses, better to air on the side of caution and head home.

Anything more to add?Need help booking a round? email us at info [at] air-golf [dot] com 

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