Matches made on the green

August 18th, 2009 by Felicity Hughes

Members of the social group Gaijin Golfers get in some putting practice on the manicured greens of the Windsor Park Golf and Country Club in Ibaraki Prefecture. (Edan Corkill photo)

Members of the social group Gaijin Golfers get in some putting practice on the manicured greens of the Windsor Park Golf and Country Club in Ibaraki Prefecture. (Edan Corkill photo)

No, this isn’t a kind of confidence trick, but rather a new trend in the dating scene. An amalgam of the words golf (gorufu) and gokon (group dating), the gorukon scene is a natural progression from the recent craze for golf bars, where you go to play a virtual round of golf while enjoying a drink. They became popular last year with the invention of a simulated software system that mimics the experience of playing out on the links.

A gorukon date would typically involve a group of single men and women, evenly matched in numbers, if not by their golfing handicap, meeting up at a golf bar to see if they can make a match. Gokon is a group blind date in which some of those attending are mutual friends, with liberal amounts of alcohol taking some of the awkwardness out of the experience. Typically people might play drinking games to ease their embarrassment, playing golf therefore comes in handy as a good conversation starter, as well as taking away the necessity of drinking heavily.

According to Tokyo Kawaii, among others, Gorukon was the brain child of Ichiro Kishida, editor of Leon, a fashion magazine aimed at stylish single men in their 40s. These days it’s not just men who are interested in golf. With the rise of fashionable young female professional golfers like Miyazoto Ai and Ueda Momoko, many young women are taking up the golfing look and even the sport itself. The hobby has the added cachet of being exclusive and expensive: Playing golf on a real golf course is prohibitively expensive for many. The manicured lawns of exclusive golf clubs are perfect hunting grounds for equally well manicured ladies hoping to snag a husband.

If you’re not able to rustle up a decent gorukon among your friends you can let the bar organize the night for you, or even enlist the help of a gorukon dating Web site.  There are also organized gorukon events where you can actually get out in the open and play on a real golf course and attend a party afterward. It would appear that interest from male participants is higher than female for these events. If you are a guy and you want to attend it’ll set you back ¥17,800 whereas women pay only ¥5,800. At Ginza Country Club, an organized gorucon costs ¥7,500 for the men and ¥4,500 for the women. It appears that in gorukon, women have the advantage of a larger handicap.

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