We're all encouraged a form of physical activity every week, no matter what your lifestyle is. If your form of recreation and physical activity involves grazing the lush green pastures and perfecting your swinging technique, you might wonder how you're going to play golf in your new home in South Korea.
The good thing is that the country is emerging as a powerhouse in global golf tournaments. It started during the momentous victory of Pak Se-ri, then 20 years old, at a major golf tournament, inspiring South Koreans to take up the sport. In fact, it now follows Japan and the United States as the world's leading countries for golf, making way for golf courses that are also expatriate-friendly.
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South Korea's first entry in the World's 100 Greatest Golf Courses is the Nine Bridges golf course. Located in the beautiful island of Jeju, it is detached from the bustling city life of Seoul, making way for the greeneries that are reminiscent of Scotland's mountain ranges. It features two main courses—the Creek and the Highland Courses—that house 18 holes. The Creek Course is appropriately titled since it's scattered with small water forms that provide a calming aura for golfers.
On the other hand, the Highland Course lives up to its name. It has a slightly rougher terrain due to the stone-lining of the creeks, merging with the former golf course. In contrast to the Creek Course, it poses a challenge for golfers to make their shot.
If you're not yet convinced, trust the locals who have deemed Nine Bridges the top golf course in the country for a number of years. The golf course has also hosted World Club Championship tournaments and Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tours, so professional golfers will certainly feel at home.
Address: 34-156, Kwangpyong-ro, Anduk-myon, Seogwipo-si, Jeju Island
Telephone: 064 793 9999
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You know your golfing experience is in professional hands when the people behind Nine Bridges in Jeju craft another golf course. The Haesley Nine Bridges offers Golf Academy, a program that can help newbies in assessing their swinging technique. It is a comprehensive golf lesson that comes with club fitting adjusted to your needs, making your experience in the 18-hole scale more personal. The developers also boast of the sub-air and the hydronic systems of the whole golf course, which maintain the quality of the grass. If you don't like a long drive from Seoul, Haesley Nine Bridges is just in Yeoju, an hour away from the capital.
Address: 76, Myeongpum 1ro, Yeoju-si, Gyeonggi-do
Telephone: 031 887 9917
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What was formerly The Ritz Carlton Country Club is now the Ananti Club Seoul, so expect a luxurious feel during your golfing session. It is straight out of an architectural dream: from its modern structures to the rolling landscapes that span the 27-hole golf course. This vast course is divided into three, all named upon the type of tree that dot the specific area.
The zelkova course would be a great nudge to start your golfing career. The first hole, with a slope that provides a good vantage point, gives amateurs a chance for a smooth shot. On the other hand, intermediate players are the target players for the birch tree course. It gets particularly challenging on the last two holes because the hilly areas may trick you into calculating the wrong distance. Lastly, the nut pine trees that mark the third course would be suited for professionals because it has the longest par-5 hole in the country club. This area is also where the other two courses are blended, and the thick foliage of the zelkova trees is a welcome contrast to the pine trees' narrow trunks.
All of these come with the fact that the club has English speakers so you can maximize your recreational time without the language barrier.
Address: 961-34, Yumyeong-ro, Seorak-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do Ananti club seoul
Telephone: 031 589 3000
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Started in 1968, years before the sport's popularity in Korea, Anyang Country Club may well be the mother of all golf courses in the country. It was built to place Korea in the global golf scene, thus earning the unofficial name as "Home of Golf." Aside from the national pride, Anyang Country Club also boasts of their own breed of grass, the Anyang Jungji, which grows thick and sturdy, perfect for setting the ball and for providing a unique golf landscape.
Although cultural as well as historical to Koreans, expatriates are welcome to experience the course established by Samsung founder Lee Byung-Chull.
Address: 364 Gunpo-ro, Bugok-dong, Gunpo-si, Gyeonggi-do
Telephone: 031 460 3301
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Taekwang Country Club arguably has the largest driving range in the city of Seoul. The range is just beside the golf course proper which allows newbie golfers to practice more realistically. If you went to South Korea with zero knowledge about golf but were convinced by your Korean friends to try it, the club offers lessons about three times a week. As you progress and hone your skills, you can then transition to the 36-hole golf course
Address: Giheung-gu in Yongin Heungdeok 477 (Singal-dong)
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A relaxing resort built on a golf course? It's not totally unheard of, because Pine Ridge Resort & Villas have done exactly that. Aside from the 27-hole total of the pine, ridge, and lake courses, it's a haven for golfers since the developers took particular care in ensuring that the grassy playing areas are of optimum health. They incorporated Elvan sand into the construction, which is said to eliminate toxic wastes from the soil and nearby lakes. This should be your go-to golf course if you're missing the European atmosphere because the structures are inspired by the continent's architecture.
Address: San 23 Beonji, Sinpyeong-li, Toseong-myeon, Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do
Telephone: 033 630 6300, 02 722 0350
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The main creation of the Hanwha Hotel & Resort Company is the Jade Palace Golf Club in Chuncheon. The golf course sits atop a mountainous region which effortlessly gives the 18-hole range, 72-par its different difficulty levels. Fittingly called Jade Palace, the place was built with the nearby forest area in mind, producing a natural blend of dense trees and streams that will inspire golfers to make a smooth shot.
Address: 212-30 Gyeongchun-ro, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do
Telephone: 033 260 8000
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The great golfer Jack Nicklaus designed this Korean golf course for both professional and amateurs, among his other golf projects around the world. Unlike the courses constructed outside of the city, this one fuses nature with modern life, as the skyscrapers can be viewed across the greenery. It has two nine-hole courses, the Urban Course and the Links Course that are both carpeted with rich, bentgrass that the designer is proud of. It doesn't only feel good to walk on, but it also equips the whole range with a conducive environment for playing. The golf club has also been the location for global golf cups, proving that their amenities are foreigner-friendly.
Address: 209, Academy-ro, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon
Telephone: 032 850 8000
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Ecoland Golf & Resort takes full advantage of the wondrous scenery of Jeju Island with the topography of its three courses. The wild course is suitably stimulating because of the hilly course that may be a challenge to starting golfers. Meanwhile, the beach hills course is a more delicate range that needs more accuracy and concentration for the mid-level golfers, considering that the area has four lakes. Finally, the eco course factors in the natural ecology of the space and gives an easy course that beginners can maximize. The golf and resort's whole website is in English too, so you're sure that they welcome players from around the world.
Address: 1278-169, Beonyeong-ro, Jocheon-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
Telephone: 064 802 8000
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Screen-golf centers are ubiquitous in South Korea, and it would be surprising if you haven't seen one during your stay in the country. It’s so popular that the in-house tournaments are broadcast over live television. Thanks to advanced technology, these centers work through a simulation-like program that detects the player's swinging ability and the ball's direction and distance. It's like a bigger, more lived-in version of your Wii. Plus, the technology mimics the whole golfing experience, complete with green matted areas to sink your feet in. It also has platforms that rise like a slope and speakers that play audio of leaves rustling, so everything you may miss in an actual golf course is there.
These centers bridge the gap for golfers who live far from the actual courses and for city-dwellers who wish to play the sport despite the limited urban space. In fact, this innovation saw more Koreans try their hands in the rich man's sport because of its cheaper fee. The immersive golf simulation had also been accepted well by both amateur and professionals that the screen-golf center has expanded in other countries like Singapore and Vietnam. Bonus: the on-screen information is in English!
Address: Golfzon Tower, 735, Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (South Korea headquarters)
Telephone: 010 4059 0161
Indeed, South Koreans know how to maximize their mountainous terrains for sports and leisure. Whether you're a purist who prefers the traditional golf courses or a tech-savvy individual who's down for some screen-golf time, the country has several options that would suit your lifestyle.