Golf Breaks in Turkey
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Your guide to: Turkey
In the 2010 edition of Golf Escapes when we talked about golf in Turkey we did so using phrases such as ‘rising star’, ‘competition to the big names’ and ‘a real contender’. Move forward a mere four years and those words are now totally inaccurate. Turkey has arrived as a real player now – it is no longer the plucky newcomer trying to grab a piece of the golf travel business. When British golfers now consider where to go for a golf break, it is impossible to imagine many do so without giving lengthy consideration to Turkey, and Belek in particular.
While that might seem an obvious statement, just ponder what it insinuates; Turkey is now as serious an option as Spain and Portugal, not to mention superceded the likes of France, Italy and the Netherlands. It might not seem outlandish in 2014, but if you had suggested as much two decades ago, when the very first course opened in Belek, you would have been laughed at. But as Belek celebrates its 20th anniversary in golf, the words ‘Turkey’ and ‘golf’ are now very comfortable bedfellows.
Belek’s rise is down to several factors, both natural and manufactured. In the former category fall aspects such as superb weather and interesting terrain. In the latter comes the energy and foresight to make Belek such a golfing superpower – witness the fact Tiger Woods has been lured from America in consecutive years to play here. You can also add to this category the affordability of the country’s economy. The choice on offer in Belek is now impressive, so much so that any first-time visitor might not have much of an idea where to go for a certain type of golf experience.
So we will try to narrow your focus by picking out five of the best courses to cater for your particular taste and budget.
Best for… a Tour experience: PGA Sultan at Antalya GC
This is in many respects where golf got really serious in Belek. The National began things in 1994 but when Antalya opened it was clear Turkey could offer really top-class golf. The PGA Sultan is marginally the pick of Antalya’s two courses, but the Pasha is a fine ‘second’ course too. The former was the host for Tiger’s first trip to Belek when he played in the star-studded Turkish Airlines matchplay there in 2012. It is a beautiful parkland course populated by mature trees and water hazards. The PGA Sultan is a haven of tranquility, and right next door is the Sirene Hotel – so it’s the perfect play-and-stay venue.
Best for… links golf: Lykia
Perry Dye was given a piece of seaside terrain other designers were openly drooling over and created a course good enough to be on the verge of the top 50 in Europe, according to Golf World’s 2013 ranking. What’s more, this offers a genuine links experience, with deep bunkers protected by railway sleepers, and massive waste areas with slick greens. Pictured here, you can see for yourselves the amazing topography and stunning views.
Best for… heathland golf: Carya
Carya, in the Kadriye Region, is one of the stand-out courses in Belek. Laid out by Open legend Peter Thomson along with his design consultants Ross Perrett and Tim Lobb, it is a heathland-style course lined by pine and eucalyptus trees. Thomson insists it reminds him of Sunningdale et al.
Best for… opulence and luxury: Montgomerie Maxx
The uber-chic Maxx Royal Hotel combines with the course designed by the 2010 Ryder Cup captain to provide a high-calibre, high-tariff experience. Formerly known as Papillon the course was routed by Montgomerie (and European Golf Design) through sandy ridges and pine forest. Penal bunkering ramp up the challenge at this host of the 2013 Turkish Airlines Open.
Best for… challenging golf: Cornelia (Faldo)
Sir Nick Faldo designed three loops at Cornelia De Luxe, where no expense has been spared on and off the course. Sir Nick admitted he had a wonderful piece of land with which to work here and has produced a delightful course where accuracy is essential. The Prince combination was No.87 in Golf World’s European Top 100 in 2013.
The climate: Belek enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. April to June and September to November are the best months – in terms of climate – for golfers.
Getting there: Turkish Airlines operate flights to Antalya from various UK airports.
Time difference: GMT +2
For non golfers
You may well not feel like leaving your all-inclusive hotel, given it will definitely have a spa, kids club, sports facilties and swimming pools. But if you do, there is an immediate attraction on your doorstep as Belek’s courses and hotels are stretched along one magnificent sandy beach. Elswhere, Antalya is an historic city and the heart is Kaleici, set within the old city walls. Antalya has a lovely old harbour while Antalya Beach Park at Konyaalti is a hive of water sports and lively bars and restaurants. Or visit the ruins of the ancient city of Perge, the Roman amphitheatre at Aspendos or the Manavgat waterfalls north of the resort of Side.
Kusadasi – Offering something different
Kusadasi International Golf Resort is the first leisure and golf development of its kind near the Aegean Sea. Located 55 miles south of Izmir, it is home to a magnificent championship course by Jose Canales Galvez. It is the perfect mix of challenging pot bunkers, manicured fairways of lush Bermuda grass and tiered greens. Visually spectacular, the course expands through indigenous olive and carob trees with outstanding views over the National Park. kusadasiinternationalgolf.com
A hole you would relish... PGA Sultan
11th: Par 4, 402 yards. An aesthetically-pleasing hole that can easily ruin a previously neat scorecard. With stretches of water on both sides of the fairway in the area short of the green, it means you must take plenty of club to reach the putting surface.