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Quick Hits: Golf in Korea

August 6, 2011 11 comments

     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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