Home > Quick Hits > Quick Hits: Golf in Korea

Quick Hits: Golf in Korea

     Hope you are all having a nice weekend. Weather is a bit humid and cloudy here in Yeosu, but the predicted rain hasn’t come yet so can’t really complain. As a quick post I would like to share a bit about golf here in Korea and personally from my experience playing a round a couple weeks ago here at City Park Golf Course and Resort. (accompanying pictures are from said course)

The first thing to know about playing golf in Korea is that it is quite expensive compared to the States, as is the case with most Asian countries. One should expect a minimum expenditure of $150-$200 for a course in the  Provinces (away from Seoul) with prices rising steeply as you get closer to the cities and in resort destinations like Jeju. An interesting side note due to this high cost is that when your average Korean person says they are “going golfing”, they aren’t heading out to play 18 holes, but rather to a driving range (the ubiquitous giant green nets found in every corner of the country). Several of these ranges call themselves Golf Clubs as they are only for members and can feature fitness centers and other facilities. I have been a member of one of these for a little while now to try to get my game back in shape and pay a cool 150,000 Korean won a month for the privilege (around $130 USD).

Another possible effect of the high price (and therefor exclusivity of playing) is that golf seems to be a far more formal outing than it has become in the West. This being my first time playing in Korea and having grown up on public courses, I arrived (much to the surprise of my Korean playing partners) in my golf clothes. I came to learn to proper etiquette was to bring to golf attire with you (in a leather, brand name clothes bag that matches your leather, brand name giant caddy golf bag) and change in the well-appointed locker room. My second mistake in this regard was coming in shorts (a nice khaki pair designed for golf) which apparently necessitated pulling out my “ignorant foreigner” card just to be allowed on the course. In my defense the temperature was in the low 80s with a similar humidity number, so really who wouldn’t wear shorts?

Anyways, to get past my faux-pas and on to the interesting differences during the round itself, of which there are a few. First and foremost, at this kind of golf price point you’d fully expect to be provided a cart and you’d be right. The difference is that in Korea these stretch golf carts not only hold all four golfers and clubs, they come complete with a young Korean woman as your driver. Not just for show (although they are quite cute) these ladies are your full-fledged caddy for the round, giving down to the meter distances, reading your putts and cleaning your balls (sorry, no real golfer can resist that old joke when the opening is there). Additional to their caddy duties, they are also the official bank for the group, holding the cash and giving the payouts for the various bets and games of the players, because what is golf without gambling.

    In the photos of this post (especially the first one up there) you may notice the street lamps lining the fairways. This is because, not content to fill up the tee sheets just during the day, many Korean golf courses are also open at night. Often times, especially during the summers and on weekends, play will keep going until 10 or 11pm. My own round didn’t finish until after 9pm and while it was an interesting experience, it wasn’t strange or uncomfortable. Korean layouts tend to be very tight and confined, meaning if you’re even a bit off the fairway (and away from the lights) your ball is likely OB anyways, meaning your never (literally) taking a blind shot.

Well as this “quick hit” post is already running a bit long, I’ll go ahead and break down a few more differences in bullet-point form:

 

  • No singles or walk-ons. You can only play on a tee-time made with a full foursome.
  • A full meal at the turn before resuming the round. I have to credit the bibimbap with improving my score on the back 9.
  • Distances in meters, not yards. Something to keep in mind if you’re playing as a tourist.

Well I hope you enjoyed the post, or at least the pretty pictures. Feel free to hit me up with any questions or comments. I, hopefully, will have more golf adventures to share as time goes on.

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Categories: Quick Hits Tags: , , ,
  1. October 21, 2011 at 7:02 am

    nice blog … let’s see also blog golf in Bali for information on golf course in Bali.

    thank you

  2. January 2, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Hi there, its good piece of writing on the topic of media print, we
    all be aware of media is a great source of information.

  3. Hornsbee
    February 13, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Planning on moving to Seoul sometime in the next six months. Wife’s family lives there and she wants to relocate to be closer to them now that everybody is older. Anyway, I’ve tried to look up public golf courses in Korea without any luck. Do you have to know somebody to golf, and are you restricted to private courses?

    • February 13, 2013 at 11:07 pm

      Hi, Best of luck in your move to Seoul. Not sure where you are coming from, but unless it’s another Asian country, golf is going to be a good bit more difficult and expensive here. There are “public” courses, but they aren’t really anything like public courses in the US. First for the cost, a round is likely to cost in total at least $200usd. Also (and for me the biggest issue) you need to have a full foursome to make a booking, no showing up as a single and trying to catch on. On the “public” courses, where no one needs to be a member, tee sheets get filled up weeks in advance for the weekends and are even pretty strongly booked on weekdays. There are a few “walk-on” par-3 or small size courses scattered about, but they tend to be difficult to find. The closest I know of to Seoul is at the Incheon Airport golf center. There are other options, for example screen golf is cheap and everywhere, sort of a full-sized video game. Also there are driving ranges scattered many places as well. Again, good luck.

      On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 8:45 PM, The ڸ in ڸ

      • Hornsbee
        February 13, 2013 at 11:41 pm

        Thanks for the feed back, Cory. Coming from US, so yeah, the price is gonna be a shock, but I am expecting the worst. I have visited before, so I know about GolfZones, but they’re just not the same thing as playing a course. I also know about Sky72, which is next to Incheon Airport. Looking forward to the big move, nonetheless!

      • February 14, 2013 at 12:44 am

        Yeah, unfortunately outside of practicing, golf is a hard passion to pursue here for non-Koreans. There are some nice courses though, so best of luck. I’ve made attempts in the past to find a foursome, but never managed but if you manage something feel free to contact me. Fairly new father, so time and funds are always short, but I still could manage to play every once and a while given the opportunity.

        On Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 8:41 AM, The ڸ in ڸ

  4. Hornsbee
    February 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Sounds great! I’ll contact you once I get into “town” and I get a little established. Congratulations on being a new daddy! Hope you’re not losing too much sleep…

    By the way, have you tried “Meetup.com”? I’ve seen some interesting groups in the Seoul area, but maybe some of the ‘big-noses’ in your neck of the woods would be interested in starting their own golf group. Just a thought.

    Cheers, for now!

  5. Do
    June 12, 2013 at 5:48 am

    Found an old post here, but I’m looking for golf clothes retailers in Korea and wondering if you know of any, apart from the single brand name stores. I thought one of the many pro-shops around the city would have apparel sections but many just sell golfing equipment. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated. Nice blog btw.

  6. Vida
    May 21, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Hi! Thanks for sharing your experience in playing golf in Korea.
    I’m planning to go to Korea this October and would like to experience playing there.
    Is there any public golf course that you could recommend me in Seoul area?
    I just love golf though I am not that good at it. I will also just be renting golf set, since bringing mine would be a hassle.

    Hope you can give me some info.

    Thanks!

  7. Steve
    August 30, 2016 at 8:05 am

    This is 100% spot on!

  1. October 15, 2011 at 6:35 am

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