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Ran Morrissett

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Naruo course profile posted ... New
« on: June 12, 2017, 11:06:45 AM »
.... under Courses by Country and Architecture Timeline/CH Alison/1920.

Here is the link:

If I told you that my top three favorite courses in the world are NGLA, PV, and TOC you might conclude that I cherish wild greens first and foremost. Fair enough; however, my top three are, in fact, NGLA, PV and Royal County Down.  So what does that mean? Who knows (!) but every now and then you stumble upon a property that is so turbulent and so interesting that its design need not extend the property’s macro movements relentlessly throughout all eighteen greens. Put another way: if RCD's greens had contours like Machrihanish's, the golfer would be overwhelmed too often. The tee-to-green aspects of County Down are so compelling that its greens (hardly demure but not rambunctious) serve it just fine.

Naruo conjures up similar thoughts. Its land is so good and employed to such great effect that its Korai greens need not feature three foot interior undulations to celebrate the overall design. Its greens still dictate playing strategy from the tee on the basis of being small to medium sized and angled attractively to the line of play. Add in Alison’s bunkering schemes and you have a set of fascinating targets, albeit without putts that break 15 feet. Naruo’s tee shots hold great appeal, the approach shots offer diverse challenges and trying to recover is anything but straightforward. By any meaningful metric, this “position” course is full of appeal and is in the conversation for best in Japan.

On a side note, I apologize that my photographs were obtained with an iPhone. The morning featured hopelessly steady rain and I left my camera safe and dry in Osaka. Alas, the weather broke just after noon.  ::)  I was so enamored with the course that our host very kindly took me back around for some afternoon pics under grey skies with the only device I had available. Some of the pictures are fuzzy  :'(  because of my unfamiliarity with the iPhone and its zoom capabilities. Regardless, I hope that the wonders of the land are apparent.

After all, this tradition-steeped club and its fascinating golf deserve the best treatment. I am keen to go back, in large part because no modern architect designs anything similar to it today.

« Last Edit: June 25, 2017, 06:05:40 AM by Ran Morrissett »

John Sabino

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Re: Naruo course profile posted ...
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2017, 02:53:51 PM »
Ran - You captured the essence of Naruo perfectly. I immediately went to your description of the 10th hole to see what you thought, it struck me as one of the most difficult par fours I had ever played. "Long, hard, and thrilling" captures it perfectly.  The semi-circular eighth also captured my attention, just such an unusual and well thought-out hole that gives options for all levels of golfer.

The fact that golf clubs move around on a motorized trolley tells you all you need to know about the steepness of the terrain, I found it to be a very difficult walk, even without carrying clubs.

I was indeed mesmerized after playing Naruo, as you captured, it is quite atypical of the courses we typically play in the US. Of my many ( ::) ) golf trips I  have taken I count Japan as my favorite, the entire experience of the female caddies, lunch, post-round bath and the rituals and politeness of the locals generally is hard to beat.

Hopefully you got to play Tokyo, Kawana and Hirono as well.

Author: How to Play the World's Most Exclusive Golf Clubs and Golf's Iron Horse - The Astonishing, Record-Breaking Life of Ralph Kennedy

David Wuthrich

Re: Naruo course profile posted ...
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2017, 04:15:57 PM »

Thanks for posting.

Looks like a very interesting place.


David Davis

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Re: Naruo course profile posted ...
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2017, 04:53:23 PM »
Thanks Ran for posting.

I was pretty lucky when I was there last year. It was cherry blossom season and I caught it on a perfect day. Though like you I only had my iPhone with me (which I use all the time BTW).

As you mention strategy is everything at Naruo and I found that it made me concentrate as hard as any course I've ever played. Holes like #5 and #7. The 5th requires such a daring tee shot to be left with a nice angle of approach to that green placed in the hills side. The only issue is that you have to be confident enough to take on the OB left to benefit from this line.

#7 is much the same. the only par 5 on the front 9. Should be easily reachable but to do that you have to take on the bunker on the right side. This is pretty easily done with driver but there is not that much space and it requires a solid fade to achieve this. Clubbing down to be safe brings that bunker into play. So reachable in two but only if you take on the risk of OB right and choose your club carefully.

I was exhausted by the end of this round and really enjoyed it. Can't wait to return. The huge lunch in-between 9's was a tough one for me, welcome to Japan. The back 9 felt like the second 18 of the day after an evening of entertainment a huge lunch and a couple cold beers...oh wait, that actually was the case.

Just wanted to post a couple photos in addition to your excellent tour.

The opening tee shot...definitely a thing of beauty.

One of Alison's huge bunkers on display. One of the many!

Here is one of the buggies John was talking about.

Typical view from a Naruo bunker...I'm 6'3"

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Alfonso Erhardt

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Re: Naruo course profile posted ...
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2017, 07:56:23 AM »
Ran, a fantastic review. I was in Japan earlier this year and I enjoyed Naruo over Hirono, which is generally considered nr.1 in Japan. Did not have the chance to play other courses in the area.

It is interesting that some of the features of Naruo are very familiar with Pedreña, in Spain, which also had Alison involved. Bunkers are less dramatic, but use of topography and bunker placement is very similar on many holes.

« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 08:11:05 AM by Alfonso Erhardt »

Jason Topp

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Re: Naruo course profile posted ...
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2017, 10:51:24 AM »
Those Alison green complexes in Japan have such a cool look.  Did Alison create a similar look elsewhere or is there something about the grass and/or soil that yields the look?

Jack Carney

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Re: Naruo course profile posted ...
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2017, 12:48:16 PM »
Awesome post Ran! I have long wanted to go to Japan just to play Naruo and Hirono. Still on my list but this certainly helps in the interim!!



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Re: Naruo course profile posted ...
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2017, 11:37:19 AM »
Those Alison green complexes in Japan have such a cool look.  Did Alison create a similar look elsewhere or is there something about the grass and/or soil that yields the look?

Like MacKenzie in Australia, Alison did not hang around long enough in Japan to see any of his work get built, so it is probably different because of the builder's feel for it.  The soils in Japan are typically clay, and they have to be conscious of big rains, so they have to be very careful about drainage coming off hillsides.  That means they build the greens up a little in the back, creating deep bunkers on the low side.

The greens are similar in size and shape to what Alison built in America in the years before he headed to Japan, but the green sites are steeper.

FWIW, I was glad to see a reminder of Naruo, which I've only visited the one time, 24 years ago now!  It was not on the itinerary for our trip at all, but when we were at Tokyo Golf Club, Masa Nishijima pointed me to their library, which had club histories of many of the older Japanese clubs.  The book for Naruo had some good pictures, and I asked where it was, and if we could make a detour!  I did the same for Nagoya GC, but the terrain wasn't as compelling.


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Re: Naruo course profile posted ...
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2017, 11:44:14 AM »
The Japanese don't pronounce Ls. You need to refer to their bunkers as Arisons.


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