Female, junior golf on Japan agenda

Growing Golf

Women, young golfers and the environment are the new Japan Golf Association Chairman Masanari Iketani’s key focus as the 76-year-old starts his role.

Brought in to replace Tsunetada Takeda, Chairman since 2015, Iketani said the JGA will be motivated by their 100th anniversary in 2024.

“We will make every effort to continue to develop golf in Japan, with everyone in the JGA working as one and united to accomplish our common mission.

“Our focus will be to continue to contribute to golf development, including but not limited to improving the golfing environment, to promote more women golfers as well as younger golfers, to help promote the education of the Rules of Golf and World Handicap System (WHS), and to focus on performance enhancement of our National Team with the goal of securing further medals at future Olympic Games.”

According to The R&A Participation Report 2021, Japan leads the way for participation in Asia, with 630,000 registered golfers out of a population of nearly 130 million. However, 90% of those registered golfers are male.

Registered adult female golfers total 60,000, with just 8,224 junior registered golfers.

Reasons for optimism

Japan's golf market has remained largely unchanged over the most recent decade, with numbers of golf course users hovering around the 9 million mark. In 2021, this jumped to 10.3 million.

The country's success in major events is likely to have played a pivotal part.

Japan’s Mone Inami clinched silver at the 2020 Olympics last year in Tokyo, while earlier that year Tsubasa Kajitani and Hideki Matsuyama made it a very special fortnight for Japanese golf at Augusta, respectively triumphing in the ANWA (Augusta National Women’s Amateur) and Masters, Matsuyama becoming the first Japanese male major winner.