Japanese superstar Hideki Matsuyama has delved into golf course design for the first time, taking on a consultancy role for the renovation and remodelling of the Taiheiyo Club Gotemba course in Shizuoka, Japan.
Matsuyama is collaborating with American architect Rees Jones on the project, which is expected to be completed in the last quarter of this year.
“I always wished there was a golf course in Japan which is equivalent to Augusta National and other Major event courses. I have discussed with Mr Rees Jones and we agreed the course should meet international standards while making it fair and challenging for everyone,” said Matsuyama, who has won the Mitsui Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters on the Gotemba course twice – in 2011 (as an amateur) and again in 2016.
“The course has the most amazing views of the World Heritage Site, Mount Fuji. Fuji-san is the most noticeable characteristic at Taiheiyo Gotemba and, when combined with the beautiful autumn leaves, is really memorable,” added the current World No 5.
Jones stressed that they will focus on strengthening the original design rather than changing it.
“Our approach to the golf course is coordinating with the original design to strengthen and make better use of the character and strategy of the holes. A well-planned renovation would improve the playability for players of all levels and increase shot options. At the same time, we think that it should be a challenging course for the world’s best players during tournaments,” noted Jones, who has been involved in more than 100 design / remodelling projects including major venues such as Bethpage Black, Atlanta Athletic and Torrey Pines.
Originally designed by Shunsuke Kato, the par-72 Gotemba course opened for play in 1977 and currently measures 7,246 yards from the back tees. The scenic, tree-lined course has hosted numerous professional events including the 2001 World Cup of Golf.