Last summer I had a free day in Pyongyang. This is a pretty rare occurrence in the life of a North Korean tour leader, so I needed to do something memorable for myself. I’ve seen and done nearly everything there is to see in Pyongyang city but one major thing had alluded me – the North Korea Pyongyang Golf Course.
That’s right- the very course that General Kim Jong Il allegedly claimed to have scored 11 hole-in-ones, or at least so the story that pops up every year or so on the Daily Mail and other papers of great repute goes.
North Korea Pyongyang Golf Course
The Pyongyang Golf Course (평양골프장), or also known by its official name of Pyongyang Taesong Golf Course is 27km south west of Pyongyang. A drive along the Youth Hero Highway and a little off-roading lead you up to the imposing, oddly triangular shaped clubhouse. First opened in 1988, it went under major renovation in 2020 to have the facilities and the equipment modernised.
No matter if you’re in a group of 20 or on your own, two Korean guides and a driver will accompany you everywhere you go. A trip to the golf course by myself was no different. I felt like Tiger Woods getting chauffeur-driven with my entourage to the first tee of a major championship, straight from my hotel. The cost is $100USD to play 18 holes, $60USD for 9 holes, $50USD for golf cart hire, clubs and caddie hire. Golf balls are $1USD each or you may bring your own.
It’s at this point where I was introduced to my caddies for the day. I should point out: one is actually a scorekeeper and the other one drags your bag along and marks your ball. All entirely unnecessary but an essential part of the experience.
The caddies would cheer every time I hit a successful shot and be close to tears every time I fluffed my lines. It made me quite nervous as I’d imagine I was playing in front of huge galleries. I just wanted to make them happy! Not a word of English between them, but it didn’t matter, the body language flowed. I was the first foreigner they had caddied for. If only there had been another golfer on the course I could have shared my joy with.
There are 10 two-storey villas equipped with kitchens available on the North Korea Golf Course for guests. Facilities such as an indoor swimming pool, ping pong tables, billiards, a gym, golf simulator, golf clothing and equipment store, and various restaurants and bars are also available.
Golf in North Korea
The Sosan Hotel in Pyongyang has a driving range located right next to it which is one of our favourite ways to wind down after a long day of touring. Previously the Yanggakdo Hotel in Pyongyang had a 9 hole mini golf course built on the same island as the hotel but was removed during the 2000s to make way for a new project that is yet to be completed.