The opening hole at Kintetsu Kashikojima establishes this course's motif; flat, with generously wide fairways usually sloping up to fast but fair greens. The 1st is a modest par 5,500 yards from the regular tees. You will learn quickly that good drives and keeping the ball in the fairways will be key, as with greens this fast it's difficult to hold them without spin. Kashikojima really is a second-shot golf course. However, I was pleased to see the winter rough was not too long, so more times than not we found a good lie in the korai grass.
After a bogey and this lesson learned, we moved on to a series of par 4s. No.'s 2, 3 and 4 are kind of similar in that if you can hit a drive 220 yards or more, then fairway bunkers on the left and right are out of play and you should have a good number left to the green. Another lesson learned is that it's best to go for the heart of these large greens, as they have false fronts, so slightly short approach shots won't get a forward bounce and you will be pitching from below the green with a tricky up and down.
The par-3 fifth is inviting from the tee, just one large bunker in the front to worry about, but this green is like a marble staircase, sloping to the right. Luckily, I landed softly in the middle, and the slope took the ball 30 feet to the pin so my tactics were beginning to show dividends. That was until the 6th hole, a long and slightly uphill par 4, where playing into the wind really tests you from tee to green. Two bunkers unusually situated next to each other to the front right of the green meant that if you find the first you're pitching over the second onto an elevated green, sloping to the back portion. Interestingly, these bunkers are known locally as "Alison" bunkers, a nod to the Englishman C.H. Alison who designed the masterpiece Hirono Golf Club in Kobe to the north and who favored varied, high-lipped bunkers.
A triple-bogey ensued and I contemplated how I would play it differently next time. But Mr. Umeda obviously was a kind man, and the 7th is a wonderful sweeping, slightly doglegged short par 5 — the perfect tonic to make me forget about the previous hole's woes. I was just off the right edge for two and managed an up-and-down for a no-drama birdie. And just like that, golf was a friend again!
The 8th is a 168 yard par-3 that certainly is an attention-grabber; with its raised green sloping to the front, and surrounded by 3 bunkers, even a few degrees off here can spell disaster. The 9th, a long par 4 with a slight dogleg right and uphill to a tabletop green surrounded by more "Alison" bunkers is a challenging finishing hole and feels like a par-5. A bogey here feels like a fair score and good timing to try the clubhouse lunch options.