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Kasumigaseki Country Club Kawagoe, Saitama

Not much is known about Kasumigaseki Country Club outside of its domestic fanbase, but an upcoming appearance in the world’s greatest sporting contest is about to change all of that. Kasumigaseki CC beat other prestigious Japanese golf courses, including Yokohama Country Club and Wakasu Golf Links, to lay claim to Japan’s second Summer Olympics hosting gig – and its first Olympic golf competition. 

Following last year’s completion of the redesign from legendary American golf course architect Tom Fazio, the course is now ready to welcome the best golfers on the planet as the countdown to July 29 begins. I was able to pay the course a visit in early May and get a preview of its impressive new layout, as well as learn more of its fascinating history.


Kasumigaseki began life as a nine-hole course in Asaka in Saitama prefecture in 1929. It was then relocated to a larger, neighbouring site in Kawagoe, and expanded to 18 holes with the help of local designers and architects. In 1931, on invitation from the course’s owner Fujita-San, renowned British golf course designer Charles H. Alison proposed a series of renovations and work began on improvements to what would become known as the East Course. Alison’s style featured undulating greens, many bunkers, and guarding elevated greens from most sides. Shortly after, the first iteration of the West Course was built, with its assistant architect Seichi Inoue later returning to build the New West Course as head architect in 1954. 

When Tokyo was confirmed for the 2020 Olympics, Kasumigaseki was immediately given the green light to make changes to modernize the East Course which was chosen as the venue for the Men’s and Women’s golf competition.  The club decided on Tom Fazio, the man behind some of golf’s most iconic courses, to breathe new life into Kasumigaseki in time for its appearance on the world stage. 

Fazio was tasked with making the two-green course (a feature unique to Japanese golf courses) into a single green and lengthening the course to over 7,400 yards. Work began on site in 2016 with Fazio’s son Tom Junior taking the lead on the project. In 2020, enhancements were complete. Happily, the original spirit of the Inoue and Alison design remains, with Fazio’s belief that courses should “reflect the natural beauty of their environments” coming through across the property.

East Course Overview

On the East course, they’ve taken advantage of the predominantly flat landscape, creating a course that meanders through a series of beautifully manicured Japanese cypress trees which have really matured now to a magnificent size. Across the East Course, the Korai rough looks like it will be quite penal, with many of the fairways tapered to make accuracy a huge factor. The greens have quite a lot of undulation too, and when they get fast and dry it will be difficult to hold the green. It is imperative that you miss on the correct side or stay below the hole on some of the greens.

The opening hole is a straight par 4, most pros will try and take something less than a driver, but any errant drives will be gobbled by the rough which was 7-10 inches when I walked there. The 10th is one of the most iconic and beautiful holes on the course. Concentration is a must to clear the water by 180 yards, then two large bunkers, and then to land on a small green, so this will be a good featured hole at the Olympics. The Par 5s will definitely be reachable so good scoring is likely here.


Olympic athletes and future visitors can look forward to enjoying some celebrated Japanese omotenashi (hospitality) at the course. 

The Japanese food here is excellent. Although, if they wish they can enjoy the “Trump Burger” specially created for the former president during a state visit where he played the East Course with then-Prime Minister Abe and current Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama. 

After Fazio’s refurbish, the extended tee boxes will make a driver more necessary than before and caters to the modern (longer) professional game. However, the original spirit of the Alison design remains, with a large variation of tee boxes to suit professionals and amateurs alike.

Unfortunately, this is a members course and visitors must be hosted by a current member. That said, I feel Kasumigaseki will become a regular fixture for more tournaments in the future, and that can only be a good thing.

Kasumigaseki remains one of the best examples of Japanese golf course design – with or without the Olympics. If you do get a golden ticket to play here, it’s an absolute must. 

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