A park golf tale in Makubetsu Town

Park golf was born in Makubetsu Town. Everyone from children to elderly people alike can enjoy this community sport.
The name is derived from "a game invented in a park," thus the name, park golf. Nowadays, more than 1 million fans enjoy park golf. Here we introduce the secret story of its birth and development with an interview with the founder, Mr. Atsushi Maehara.

Ground golf, the forerunner of park golf

In June 1986, park golf was invented based on the idea behind "ground golf," which had been invented in Tomari Village (currently Yurihama Town), Tohaku-gun, Tottori prefecture.
Mr. Maehara said "When I was considering a new community sports that three generations can play together, colleagues at the town hall brought ground golf clubs and a wooden ball to me. It was the starting point of the birth of park golf.
At that time, Mr. Maehara was just assigned as the director of the board of education in the town. He had been playing golf and started to understand its charm. His heart pounded because he thought that ground golf might be fun, since it was also called golf. He and his town hall colleagues tried ground golf right away.
However, their expectations were not met. On the dry soil, the ball rolled away, and they could not drive the ball as in golf.
After playing, they were disappointed, and to make matters worse, white dust covered their shoes and clothes.

Mr. Atsushi Maehara

Mr. Atsushi Maehara, born in 1934 in Makubetsu Town.
He was employed by Makubetsu Town in 1952, served consecutively as manager of the general affairs division, board of education director, and treasurer. When he was director of education, he invented park golf with the hope that it would prevail. Currently he serves as the president of the Nippon Park Golf Association (public interest incorporated association).

Tsutsuji (Azalea) Course, an entirely handmade course

Mr. Maehara was discouraged by the rather disappointing result. However, the lawn of a park came in sight. What if we play on the rough lawn of the Undo Koen (Sports Park) instead of soil? His heart started to pound again. He said "Looking back now, I cannot believe it, but I came up with the idea of digging holes in the park." Mr. Iwao Mitsui (incumbent executive managing director of the Nippon Park Golf Association) who shared Mr. Maehara's view, joined to dig holes with shovels. They buried a vinyl chloride pipe with a diameter of 20 centimeters in the holes similar to a cup. They were absorbed in working and finally completed the current Tsutsuji (Azalea) Course, the first park golf course in its birthplace.
Later, a second park golf course, Elm Course was created in Chirotto Park and courses have increased. Currently there are 14 courses, including town-managed and private ones. Many fans enjoy playing every day.

The vinyl chloride pipe, buried in the ground

The vinyl chloride pipe, buried in the ground

Tsutsuji (Azalea) Course, an entirely handmade course

In March 1986 the new sport was named park golf. Since different clubs and balls than those used for “ground ball” were invented, this was a new sport that needed a new name. Mr. Maehara said "It is golf played in a park, so we named it park golf… It may be too simplistic, but I believe the name is easy to remember." Since we wanted men and women of all ages to enjoy it, we tried to give the game a friendly name, and to introduce the clear and simple playing method and rules. It is not a sport for reckless competition, but has rather commonly been known as a playful community sport in a friendly atmosphere.

Various ways to enjoy it. Let's play even on a snow-covered field.

There are various ways to have fun with park golf. Some play for their health, some aim at top scores at competitions and spend the whole day practicing, and others tour local courses as a trip with friends. Each player has different ideas and reasons.
For the daily player, winter with its snow is a season of impatience. The courses are closed for about six months.
However, fans turn every circumstance into an opportunity. They level and pile up snow, and even create snow courses. With frozen breath, they enthusiastically enjoy playing in the freezing cold.
Park golf provides an enjoyable time in a relaxed manner amid the blight sun and lush green. This lovable and casual community sport also extends warm contact and smiles among players today as always.


The ball of the tree at the time of the start.

Kumagera (black woodpecker) mark

Kumagera (black woodpecker) markz

This mascot was born in 1987. Why is the mark of park golf a black woodpecker? – Because a wooden ball is hit with a wooden club like a woodpecker pecking at wood. That is why the black woodpecker was chosen to represent the game.

The Nippon Park Golf Association (NPGA) (public interest incorporated association) Takara-machi 53-1, Makubetsu-cho
Tel: 0155-54-2260 Fax: 0155-54-2204

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