Belek-The heart of the Turkish golf boom

Posted on 14 February 2011

Date: 16/07/2007
Belek-The heart of the Turkish golf boom

TURKEY is set to be the next big golf destination and the Belek region is at the heart of its development, with courses being created at several venues and quality hotels popping up to support them.

South-west Turkey has long been a vibrant holiday spot with its miles of golden beaches and natural beauty, but it is golf that has brought an surge of activity with over a dozen in operation and another handful planned – among them, one at the Papillon Zeugma Hotel designed by Colin Montgomerie, who paid a visit to the region earlier this year.

With 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s perfect for a winter golf break, and you can get direct flights between November and March.

Recently the British PGA has given its seal of approval to the area by choosing Antalya’s David Jones-designed championship course, re-named the PGA Sultan.

Most courses in the area are served by a shuttle bus service from the top hotels, which also include the Sirene, Kempinski, The Dome and Cornelia – the latter featuring a spectacular – and difficult – Nick Faldo design. However, the PGA Sultan, the Pasha, the National, and Gloria courses will test players of all abilities and are maintained to high standards.

The pick of Cornelia Resort course are some wonderful par 3s, especially the sixth, while the 11th is one of the best double dog-leg par 5s you will ever face. As for the closing three holes- there’s water everywhere!

Faldo has also designed a further nine holes here, together with a state-of-the art practice and game improvement facility.

The PGA Sultan course provides easy walking but it’s tree-lined, and there are plenty of undulations to catch the careless drive while the greens are true but tricky to read. The 8th is a great short hole and 9th a frightening par 4 with water cutting into the green. The 16th will make a grown man drool and 18th an appropriately testing finish.

Shorter but with tricky dog-legs, The Pasha has generous fairways, cleverly-placed bunkers and undulating greens and like its sister course has lakes and a backdrop of towering umbrella pines and the snow capped Taurus Mountains.

The National has been carved through eucalyptus and pine trees – unforgiving to the wayward driver. The complex includes a 40 bay driving range, two chipping and putting greens and nine-hole academy course. Rated 43rd best on the continent of Europe, it has hosted the European Seniors Tour twice and has many natural water hazards.

Designed by Frenchman Michael Gayon, Gloria Golf Club is undulating and tree-lined with four huge lakes and more than 60 bunkers. It has also hosted European Tour events and features narrow, Bermuda grass fairways and with the signature hole-the par 4 13th, christened ‘Bottle Neck’ but not for holding up play!

Turkey may not be the favourite fare of UK households currently but its namesake in Eastern Europe is fast gaining a reputation as the preferred destination among golfers.

Source : GolfMagic (Feb 2007)

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