“The Path to the British Open - Mizuno Open” reached 47 times for the domestic men’s golf tournament, which was held on May 25th. It was announced that the tournament would be hosted at a new golf course for the next year. Instead of hosting at the JFE Setonaikai Golf Club, it will be held at The Royal Golf Club (Hokota-city, Ibaraki prefecture) for the next three years. The Mizuno Open is one of the most prominent tournaments in the country, and is also the only tournament in Japan that is positioned as a qualifying for the British Open.
Photo： The ROYAL GOLF CLUB's view. 8000 yards in total length's leading long course.
“The World Standard” － a new course
The new stage for the Mizuno Open, The Royal Golf Club, was opened on March 2017. It is the longest course in Japan with a total length of 8,143 yards designed based on the concept of the “World Standard”. The course is known for its strategic and tough course setting. It is no doubt that male professional golfers will battle for the ticket of the British Open even harder than usual.
Recently, attention to golf has been increasing due to Japanese players completing in overseas, including Hideki Matsuyama, who received the second place in the U.S. Open. On the other hand, people are worrying about decrease in the golf population. In 1992, the golf population has peaked to 14.8 million; however, it decreased to half with 7.6 million in 2015. To bring back the population, a new column has been launched based on the “World Standard” by The Royal Golf Club - “TAKE OFF TO THE WORLD! How to change the traditional Japanese golf style”.
Inside the column you will find: the interview of the course supervisor, Mr. Norio Suzuki, and a sports trainer, Mr. Souichi Hiroto; course impression by golf lovers (mania) of various fields; enjoyment of golf by women’s perspective; the charm of The Royal Golf Club and the pleasure of playing golf from various angles; and of course the preview of the next year’s Mizuno Open.
The representative of Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Group, Mr. Motohiro Nozu, was chosen as the first interview guest for the start of the new column.
－－When did the invitation of the Mizuno Open begin?
“From a few years ago. We always wanted to invite the Mizuno Open to improve the previous The Royal Ocean. It wasn’t about which comes first, but the renovation and invitation plan was nearly simultaneous. In order to hold the Mizuno Open in 2018, we must complete the renovation by 2017 and start the business with a promotion of the course. The question was - when do we need to complete the construction. Things started moving and the construction started on January 2016, completed on August 2016, and a grand open on March 2017”.
－－Why did you choose Mr. Yoichi Nagato as the course designer and Mr. Suzuki as the supervisor?
“Because I wanted to create a top-class course with a top-class people. I requested Mr. Nagato and Mr. Suzuki to create a course that will make even the professional golfers better. I also requested them to make a beautiful course. When both of them first saw the land of The Royal Golf Club, they said that they felt the power of the earth. Hokota city, where The Royal Golf Club is located, has a historical shrine called Kashima Shrine. It seems that the power of God lives around The Royal Golf Club”.
Phto：Mr. Motohiro Nozu. The representative of Nippon Kabaya Ohayo Group.
Suggestion of New Golf
－－What would it be if you express The Royal Golf Club in one word?
“It is a course that makes people think that they want to get better - for both professional and amateur level. Of course the length of the course, undulated fairway, and the wide and steep slope green. A difficult but enjoyable course”.
－－What is the origin of the president Nozu's golf?
“The start was when my father took me to a golf course while I was little. Mostly, I played around by hitting balls at a bear ground. It was fun and I just wanted to hit some balls. I believe that was my starting point of golf. At The Royal Golf Club, we want to spread out how to enjoy golf without thinking too much about the scores. Instead of playing for only one day and returning home, I want people to spend two nights and enjoy for three days. During those three days, it is fine to take a day off or include a training session. It’s a course that provide a new golf style”.
－－It seems like the story is endless when it comes to golf, haha.
“Well, I can talk about golf for even an hour or two”.
－－Well then, lets have your golf column in the new series.
“You sure that’s ok? Then, I will write randomly. By the way, I’ve watched the Masters in person this year. The weather was fine but the wind was pretty strong…”.
－－Oh, please finish the rest of the story in the column.
“Oh ok, but one last thing. The Royal Golf Club is designed not only for players but also for galleries. You can see it when you actually walk the course but you can see every whole properly. It sounds like its normal but surprisingly not many courses are like that. Please enjoy watching the Men’s professional challenge tournament, amateur tournaments, and as well as the Mizuno Open hosted at The Royal Golf Club”.
－－Thank you very much.
(Interview & Photo / SC Editorial Department － Nobuyuki Nishizaki; Supervised / Seijun Ninomiya; Translation / Yuki Kariya)