Warbirds soar over fairways at Misawa Air Base golf course
By SETH ROBSON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 8, 2017
“Wild Weasel” F-16 jet fighters screaming overhead are a pleasant distraction for hackers at Misawa Air Base’s Gosser Golf Course.
The home of the 35th Fighter Wing, in sparsely populated northeast Japan, is blessed with ample land for recreation, and those who built the base’s 18-hole golf course in 1952 made good use of it.
At more than 6,200 yards from the blue tees and 5,800 from the whites, the course, which includes five par 5s, has the sort of length that big hitters in the mold of John Daly or Rory McIlroy relish.
Misawa gets more than its share of snow, and the course serves as a cross-country ski playground during winter.
Wide fairways, reasonably short grass and shrubbery and plenty of well-spaced trees means this place is kind of forgiving if you’re not on target. Hit a massive hook or slice off the tee, and on many of the holes you might end up sitting in the middle of the next fairway, or at least have a shot at the hole from the rough.
The greens in autumn are reasonably soft but still quite fast. It can be hard to get the ball to hold chipping from an uphill lie, and it pays to carry a tool to fix your pitch marks.
There are bunkers to contend with; however, they’re not particularly deep or challenging.
There’s only one significant water hazard — a small pond with two fountains in front of the par 3 10th.
The hole was redesigned a decade ago to U.S. Golf Association standards and is supposed to provide the same sort of test as Augusta’s No. 12.
Players have a fairly large green to aim at, but it’s 186 to 192 yards away over the pond. It’s a challenge to hit it from the elevated tee that overlooks Lake Ogawara. Only a short walk from the 18th green, it’s the perfect place for a post-match dip in summer.
If you want a workout, you’ll get a good walk here, although carts are available for those who like to conserve energy. New-looking asphalt cart paths run part of the way along the sides of the fairways.
The course is named after Ret. Maj. Delbert Gosser, a former member of the 531st Tactical Fighter Squadron who died from injuries after ejecting from his F-100 Super Sabre into the Pacific Ocean near Misawa on Jan. 5, 1962.
His memory lives on in the course and the Air Force fighters that still train in the sky above. The course is only about a 5-minute drive from Misawa’s flight line, which the Air Force shares with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and commercial aircraft.
There’s also a spacious driving range to work on your shots, a pro shop and a restaurant where you can refuel and enjoy a cold one after mastering or surrendering to the course.
Gosser Golf Course, Misawa Air Base
Gosser Golf Course is a 5-minute drive west of the Misawa Air Base flight line, next to Lake Ogawara.
November to March: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; October: 7:15 a.m. to dusk (weekdays), 6:15 a.m. to dusk (weekends); May to September: 6:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weekdays), 5.45 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weekends); April: 7:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. (weekdays), 6:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. (weekends)
An 18-hole green fee ranges from $9 for lower enlisted to $13.25 for civilians and $36.75 for local national guests. Juniors can play for $4.50. Golf cart rental is $9.
Lakeview Grill, a restaurant in the same building as the course’s pro shop, serves burgers, sandwiches, salads, pizzas and a variety of side dishes. Most items cost less than $10.