June 14, 2019 By: Toby Ingleton — Tokyo Golf Club in Japan has introduced its new Chichibu green complexes, following redesign work by Hanse Golf Design.
The course has two green complexes per hole – named Asaka and Chichibu after prior locations for the club, before it moved to its present site in Sayama in northwest Tokyo. The club will alternate the set of greens to be played on a daily basis.
The course was originally designed in 1940 by Japanese golf course architect Kohmyo Ohtani, who was also the club’s vice president. Ohtani was inspired by the work of Hugh Alison, the longtime partner of Harry Colt and designer of Tokyo GC’s previous course at Asaka, the first project on his visit to Japan in the 1930s. During that time Alison also created layouts for Hirono and Kawana, among others, leaving a significant mark on golf course design in the country where his large and deep bunkers became known as ‘Alisons’.
In 2009-10, Tokyo GC turned to golf course architect Gil Hanse to prepare a master plan for the club and renovate the Asaka green complexes. Hanse returned in 2017 to begin work on the Chichibu greens, as well as fairway bunkers and teeing grounds.
“During this project we renovated the Chichibu green complexes, rebuilt all and re-positioned some of the fairway bunkers and mounds, created new back and forward teeing grounds, and removed a significant number of trees from the golf course,” said Hanse.
“The project started in October of 2017 and was completed in October of 2018,” said Hanse. “The course was closed for the summer months of 2018 to allow us to work on the fairway bunkers and the tees. This time of year, play is typically much lower so there was minimal disruption to the membership. With the dual greens complexes the members were able to play the existing set of greens while we renovated the second set of greens.”
Hanse was on site regularly throughout the project, with lead shaper and design associate Neil Cameron there throughout.
“While the Chichibu green complexes are all original designs from Hanse and Cameron, the fairway bunkers were more of a restoration of the original design of Ohtani-san,” said Hanse. “We loved his work, his respect for Alison and the time that they spent together is clearly evident in the scale and bold positioning of his work.
“All of the fairway bunkers have been restored, some of them were shifted down range to reflect the current length of the game.
“The restoration of the split fairway par-five fifteenth hole is one of the boldest compositions we have ever worked with and we were happy to restore it. The scale and positioning of the bunkers on holes thirteen, fourteen and fifteen comprises a very dramatic and interesting set of bunker complexes for three straight holes.”