Golf Customs in Japan
Did you know?
There are about 2,350 golf courses in Japan. A large number of these where constructed during the "bubble-years" in the late 80's and early 90'.
Now many of these are in financial trouble, which among other things means that golf in Japan has become much more inexpensive and access to courses has improved dramatically.
Traditionally the Japanese have played with caddies and most golfers have grown accustomed to this form of play. Normally there's one caddie (mostly female) per foursome. To keep costs down, both for the club and players, many clubs today also offer self play, which is usually about 3,000 yen less than playing with a caddie.
Golf in Japan is, or at least used to be, a full-day exercise. One reason for this is that after the first 9 holes, players are forced to take an average one hour lunch break, and sometimes even longer on busy weekends! Nowadays many courses allow "playing through" without lunch break, but usually only on weekdays.
OB Tees (playing "4"tee) To speed up play (which often is much slower than in the west), most Japanese courses use OB tees on holes were players tend to hit OB's, or into ponds.etc.. The OB tees (marked with yellow tee markers) are located were a good tee shot would have landed, and you play your 4th shot from there. OB tees are also used on par-3 holes, and would normally be located past the hazards and close to the green (see image) where you`ll be playing your third shot.
Black-and-Yellow Stakes (one penalty)
Another feature to speed up play is the use of one penalty "Yellow" markers instead of OB markers. This falls under a "Local Rule" and you wont find it in the R&A or USGA rule books. If you hit past this line, you simply move your ball back onto your course diagonally and concede a one stroke penalty.