Chicago-based golf architect Rick Jacobson has completed the second phase of a master plan renovation of the 27-hole Ibaraki Kokusai golf club in Japan.
“We're very excited to have the opportunity to enhance the golf experience by upgrading the quality of the playing surfaces and improving various strategic design elements while remaining true to the spirit of the original course design,” Jacobson said. “The fact that the project moved forward this year following the catastrophic events of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami is a testament to the strong will and spirit of the Japanese.”
By the time the project is complete, Jacobson said he will have regressed all 27 greens with A-4 creeping bentgrass, renovated teeing areas, redesigned bunkers, and reconstructed cart paths. He also has been contracted to improve and update the practice facility.
Ibaraki Kokusai’s first 18 holes were designed in 1960 by Giichi Sato, a highly successful amateur player in the 1930s and 40s. The third nine was designed by golf architect Osamu Ueda.
At the time the course was built, it was common in Japan for courses to be designed with two greens on each hole, one planted with warm season turfgrasses, the other with cool-season turf. The conversion to a single green system evolved as a result of the better heat tolerance of modern cool season grasses such as A-4, which can withstand Japan's intense summer heat.
In addition, many Japanese courses are currently converting to single greens to reduce maintenance costs. Jacobson said: “The golf market in Japan is similar to the US. Courses are operating with conservative budgets while being challenged to attract and retain golfers during difficult economic conditions.”
The work is being carried out by contractor Riken Green Company.