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A Day at North Korea’s Yanggak-do Golf Course

Posted October. 06, 2005 07:16,   


It was 6:10 a.m. on October 3 at the Yanggak-do golf course, in Pyongyang. At the first tee, I hit an iron tee shot to the fairway.

“Which iron rod (North Korean for golfing iron) would you like to use, reporter?” said a North Korean caddy.

The Yanggak-do golf course opened in April 2000. It is a par-three, nine-hole golf course with a 147-yard longest hole and a 67-yard shortest hole. So players have to use irons for their tee shots.

The first tee shot was not bad, I thought, but the caddy said nothing. If I were in South Korea, I bet caddies would compliment me, saying, “Good shot.” On the 98-yard seventh hole, I made my tee shot on the green, and then the caddy finally shouted, “Nice shot!” That’s when I knew that North Korean caddies don’t make compliments often.

The golf fee for one round (caddy and green fee included) in North Korea is 20 euros or 25,000 won per player. Rental charges for golf clubs and shoes are included. However, players have to buy balls for two euros or 2,520 won for a box with three balls, and gloves for 15 euros, or 18,900 won.

Instead of golf carts, caddies in red uniforms takes small carts with them which can only carry golf bags. One caddy takes care of four players, but the cart is too small to carry four golf bags, so they put two sets of clubs into one bag.

All the courses are straight, but several tall trees stood between the fairways. The bunkers were deep and the ground was solid, which gave me hard time scoring. Most greens were like a mound with a center bulge, so it was not easy to put a ball on the green with one shot.

The Daedong River runs next to the right side of the clubhouse, and there’s a separate driving range where players can practice shots while enjoying the beautiful scenery of the river in the front.