Golf in Korea is really big. I mean... really big. Everywhere you go, you can see screen golf rooms... (sounds like a video game for grown-ups to me.... might as well just go buy a wii). Seoul also hides many driving ranges in unsuspecting places. On the sixth floor of my hagwon building, there is a driving range (?). I don't really understand how you can have a driving range inside a tiny building like ours, but I'd really like to go up and find out. We actually send our second year preschoolers up there for golf lessons once a week. Also, right by Wangsimni Station (about 5 minutes from my hagwon where I work) is a huge mall. Inside the mall there are the general mall things, plus a water park on one side and a driving range on the other side. Again, I've never been in this driving range, but evidently it's only 15,000 won ($12.00 USD) for all the balls you can hit in an hour. The place looks immense.
Enter-6 mall near Wangsimni. See the rounded tall part of the building next to the tall mirror plated tower? That's a driving range... who would have ever thought to put a driving range in a mall??
On the other hand, if you want to play a real round of golf on a real golf course, you may have to shell out quite a bit more money than you're used to. One round of golf may cost around 1,000,000 won ($790.00) for 4 players at a typical course if you don't have a membership. This includes the caddy fee and tip, green fee and golf cart. Why so much money? Well, it's a small country where land is expensive, besides the huge popularity of the sport which causes a really high demand. So... I doubt the average person around here gets out to the golf course often. Who can afford that much money for one game?
Going abroad to play golf seems to be quite popular (at least in my boyfriend's circle of friends). My boyfriend went to Thailand during the long weekend in May, and all he did for 5 days was play golf because it was actually affordable. Sounds awful to me, but I could ski for five days in another country, so I guess, to each his own. In fact, Koreans can even go abroad and take golf classes, taught in Korean, at many courses. My boyfriend's friend is a golf instructor and he went to Thailand to work for several months, teaching golf to Koreans, and made quite a nice bit of money I bet.
Anyway... how did I wind up at a driving range? Well, I'm still not sure... I guess I finally gave into his begging to go. And... yes, I suck.. but then again, it was my first time. But, you know, I'm already into one expensive sport (skiing). I can't afford to get into two expensive sports. I always associate golf with yuppies anyway.... I know it's not true, but I can't imagine myself on a golf course with a polo shirt and a golf bag.
The driving range I went to was outside of Seoul, in Bundang. It was outdoors, but the area where you putt (?) from was completely covered. Not only was it covered, but it was actually three stories high. You could putt from any of the three floors. Leave it to Koreans to build up rather than out.... they are the masters of conserving space. When you hit a ball out past 80 meters or so, the balls rolled down, presumably into collection bins. There are no ball collecting carts that you can try to aim while you're hitting the balls. No real grass for that matter either. Some fake looking grass up front, then it's all smooth so the balls can roll when you get far enough out.
Anyway... golf is not something that I really care about, but if it is something that you care about, you can easily fit in here in Korea. Just.... don't expect to be out on the course more than once a year...