My first impressions of the Yokohama Country Club was quite refreshing. It felt like a classic old course and was set into its natural surroundings quite well, a stark contrast to my original views of Japanese golf, that’s for sure. Up until now the only courses that sparked my interest in Japanese golf architecture was any course designed and built by C.H. Allison.
Takeo Aiyama founded, designed and built 36 holes at the Yokohama Country Club from 1960-65. Every time new land was acquired, new greens were built, holes were extended, and other changes were made in order to create an ideal golf course.
The club quickly gained popularity and started hosting tournaments such as the 1978 Japan Open, which Seve Ballesteros won. It has also hosted a number of TV matches featuring Jack Nicklaus in 1973, Trevor Immelman in 08, Tiger Woods in 2010 and Rory McIlroy in 2011.
When the YCC asked the Coore & Crenshaw group to renovate the west course, Bill and Ben accepted and expressed their fondness of the West course saying they wouldn't need to do much to enhance it. The YCC formed an ingenious plan to make the project sustainable by informing civil excavating projects in the surrounding area that they would be able to take unwanted fill dirt for a price. The routing will remain virtually untouched with changes to a few holes like the old 600 yard 18th turning it into the new part 4 8th, and the par 3 9th, and also changing the old 13th and 14th holes into the new 4th hole. The primary focus for the Coore & Crenshaw team is to take the incoming dirt to create interesting golf corridors while retaining the character of the old course peripherals, fitting them seamlessly together as one cohesive unit.
With YCC's ability to step outside the norm and the possibility of hosting the 2018 Japan open, I think the west course will stand out amongst the estimated 2500 courses in Japan. More pictures to come later this summer!