Thursday, May 21, 2009

Adventures of the Golfing Variety

The golf driving range at Jingumae, in the heart of Tokyo is a combination of Western and Eastern that golf enthusiasts from across the globe can appreciate. Its location next to the National Stadium, where the Yakult Swallows play their home games make for easy access via the subway. Upon entering, there is a pro shop that sells every golf notion from packs of tees to the most expensive and professional of clubs. Right outside of the shop, at a small vending machine, guests purchase a rechargeable card in increments of 3000, 5000 or 10,000 JPY and then turn around to get a “box” from the desk. There are three floor options – for one price, you can be on the first, second or third floors of the building. Of course the first floor is the most expensive since it approximates course conditions the most realistically. You walk from the desk down a long hallway which is open on one side to face tee boxes and the open range, netted in carefully from about 300 meters away. Each tee box is separated with a half-wall that goes only half the length of the box as well. In each box is a chair and a hanger from which you can hang your coat. To get started, you put your card into the machine near the entry of the tee box. Instantly, right on the green in the front of the box, a tee with a ball on it pops up. There are more than forty tee boxes lined up along the wall of what used to be a second baseball stadium. You can tell what its prior use was from the stands of seats that still exist to the side of the boxes.

The idea is to set yourself up and take as many shots as you’d like. You pay by the ball and the machine automatically deducts from your declining balance card. Every time you hit one ball, another pops right up. It’s easy to forget how many balls you’ve already hit! Thankfully, the machine keeps track of each one.

There are, of course, the omnipresent vending machines of every drink under the sun, from milk to water to cups of various sodas and sports drinks. Near the entrance however is an interesting vending machine that sells golf gloves. There is a ring of them on the machine to try on so that you make the proper choice out of the machine. Of course, this interesting vending machine is situated strategically adjacent to the cigarette vending machine.

No trip to anywhere in Japan would be complete without oshibori, the hot washcloth. Right before you leave there is a cabinet full of them and you can use one free of charge to clean up before leaving. After the exertion of the swing, the towel is most welcome.

No comments: