The Otaru Country Club was founded as a very basic nine-hole seaside course outside Sapporo, the club extending to 18 holes in 1971 when land was purchased a few minutes from the original site.
Here a course was built on what was flat farmland less than 1 mile from the sea, but with thousands of cork, pine and birch trees planted by the club to create interest and difficulty for the better players. Sadly the result is a confusing and tight parkland style course on what remains a fairly windy and exposed tract of dull land. A 2004 typhoon wiped out 3,000 trees and might have actually improved the layout, especially from the tee where the trees are your primary driving challenge. The bending holes are quite confusing, the key being to decipher precisely where or when the hole bends and which trees to attack. The bunkering doesn’t really add to the design, fairway traps rarely test the good players and on such a bland site the primary hazards really needed to make a greater, and more impressive, visual statement. Individual problem spots include the massively disproportionate green on the cross-pond par three 2nd, poor driving holes at the 8th and 13th and narrow landing areas at the 14th, 15th and 18th.
On the positive side, the 11th, 12th, 16th and 17th holes are quite nice, the distant mountain views are pleasant and a 2001 renovation of the greens and bunkers has improved these important features, but this remains fairly unremarkable.