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Although many people know that you can have a really good holiday in Turkey , the golfing community are only just discovering how fantastic golf and the facilities for it are, especially in Belek the golfing capital of Turkey . The weather allows for all year round golf although the best times are probably March to May and September to November. The culture is one where everyone can feel very safe whilst out enjoying an evening’s entertainment, especially ladies.
There are now 11 Golf Clubs / resorts in Belek, which is a small interesting town just 28 kilometres down the road from the city of Antalya where the main airport is. These eleven clubs / resort are the homes to 12 X 18 hole golf courses, 2 x 27 hole courses and 3 x 9 hole courses all of which are superb. Although much has been written about some of these golf courses before, it is helpful to have an overview of some of them at the same time in this review, they are:
The National Golf Club1 x 18 Hole Course and a 9 hole “Executive” course.
Styles itself as “The Oldest and Still the Best” and it probably is. It has a fantastic layout and is a well thought out test for any standard of golfer, even the Pro’s. The entire golf course winds its way through the Cypress Pine forests with its lakes and rivers. It also has a fantastic terrace overlooking the 18th green where you can be served some of the best food in the area unless you would like to eat inside in the well appointed restaurant. Eating here is nearly as fantastic an experience as playing golf.The Antalya Golf Club
2 x 18 Hole courses (The Pasha and The Sultan)
These could be called the “Little and Large” of the area. The Sultan is a great course with many tree lined holes and is about as long as The National, although possibly not quite as tough a test, but it is a marginal call. The Pasha is quite a bit shorter and wider than most of the other courses in the area, although the greens can be a little tricky in order to keep you concentrating. It will still “bite” you if you consider it to be easier than the others! The club house is impressive and also offers quite good cuisine.The TAT Beach Golf Club
27 Hole golf course in 3 sets of 9 holes.
This course has more of a links feel to a lot of it but also offers many parkland holes as well. If you arrange the green fees with the right agent it is often possible to play all 27 holes for the price of 18. Obviously with a break for lunch in the well appointed American styled club house.
The Tat: The main feature of this nine holes is probably the gently undulating nature of its dunes.The Belek: A very links like course with a constant light breeze from the Mediterranean Sea - very cooling especially in summer! In stormy weather, this nine hole course will give you the challenge (fright) of your golfing life!
The International: This latest addition is a good combination of sand dunes, lakes and river landscape.
The Robinson Nobilis Golf Course
18 Parkland holes of golf. This has a magnificent Roman style Club house with a bar and an "a la carte" restaurant and a pine-shaded patio and Golf Academy .
This course has, like some of the others, been created within a natural pine forest bordered by the Aksu River . With wide fairways, abundant trees, 92 bunkers and 4 lakes (not forgetting the river) this flat 18 hole course provides a fair but challenging test for all levels of golfers.
The Gloria Golf Resort
2 x 18 hole course and 1 X 9 hole
1. "Old" Championship course: A beautiful course set amongst pine trees with seven lakes and 63 bunkers to catch the unwary! The fairways are narrow and challenging and the whole course is kept in immaculate condition all year round.2. Gloria "New": Undulating parkland course with some great challenging and unforgettable golf holes, tree-lined fairways, 4 large lakes and 67 bunkers that play a big role on many of the holes. A true test for every golfer!
3. Gloria Verde could be said to be among the best 9-hole golf courses, since it has been designed in accordance with the concept of an 18-hole championship golf course. It features tight tree-lined fairways and requires spectacular shots over water, 28 bunkers & 2 lakes.
The Cornelia Golf Resort
27 Holes in 3 loops of 9 consisting of the King, Queen, & Prince courses. This golf course, designed by Nick Faldo, is a real triumph of design. It seems like it has been there for ages and is tougher than some courses that are older. It has some really beautiful scenery as well as “difficult to get to” greens. Still a good test for all levels.The Papillion
A Colin Montgomerie designed 18 hole golf course . The Montgomerie Course at Papillon Golf Club forms part of the golf and hotel complex.
To compliment the 18 hole championship golf course there is a flood lit 9 hole short course and a golf academy, as well as a luxury 5 star hotel and up to 40 holiday villas which will join the four existing Papillon hotels in Belek.
The Sueno does some great "season tickets" for all facilities for non residents.
Sueno - The Pines
The Pines a great woodland / links hybrid course, this course will test the best golfer. The tougher of the two courses, the Pines Course measures over 6400 meters from the championship tees. Employing the wild shaping of the links courses and a natural bunker style this course offers a rugged beauty as well a tough but fair golfing challenge.
Sueon - The Dunes
The Dunes is more links like than the Pines but does have the odd "funny bounce" from the middle of the fairways. The easier of the two courses, the Dunes Course measure over 5500 meters however Sueno Dunes will punish poor play. Still employing the wild shaping of the links used on the Pines course the Dunes course utilises a more conventional resort bunker style thereby setting a resort style of challenge.The Kaya
A real beauty of an 18 hole course once the first couple are out of the way. Kaya is challenging and has quite a few dramatic holes where the player must choose between risk and reward. But it also has many shorter par threes and fours where the interest is provided by strategic bunkers and subtle green contours. A course for everyone.
The latest addition to the Belek family of golf courses, Carya is a classic, heathland style golf course.
The Lykia Links
As with most links style golf courses, the prevailing wind off of the Mediterranean Sea provides golfers with the challenge they want. The four holes along the Mediterranean Sea - Holes 13, 14, 15 and 16 - are dramatically placed in the dunes and require skilled shots. Hole #17, with it's small green and a prevailing cross wind tests even the very good golfer. The 18th hole finishes stadium style, with a huge waste area on the right, mounds on the left and a turtle back green that requires the golfer to approach the green with caution. This course is a challenge for the accomplished golfer, requiring some Scottish style "punch and run" shots. The greens are "mad"!
All of these courses are of the highest standard and equal to the best that Western Europe has to offer. And they are all within ten minutes of each other.
Typical costs to play a round on any of these courses is around £50 to £60, buggies are around £20 for a round and caddies about £10, some courses ask for over 100 euros in high season but as many things in Turkey these are often negotiable.
Many travel agency companies are now trying to entice golfers to the "4,5 and 7 star" hotels that provide, in some cases, an "all inclusive" deal and for the rest, half board arrangements. The average cost is in the region of £350 for 7 nights including 3 rounds of golf. A further 3 rounds would cost up to £180 and this is before the flights are added.
In fact, of the golf courses mentioned all are hotel golf courses with the exception of the National, and the Carya, where visitors are very welcome to play. Occasionally, as one meets guests from some of these establishments on the golf course, they tell you about lukewarm food on buffet services that are the same every single day without variation. Loads of families on their affordable holiday with all the babies and kids that they can carry, are also in these hotels which some find inhibits their ability to enjoy the evenings especially. However these hotels are clean, well appointed and generally well run, if a little lacking in variety, in one or two cases.
What is not so well known about the area Belek is that these great golf courses can be played at equally reasonable rates (sometimes better discounts can be arranged) if you are staying in your own self catering apartment or villa. This affords you much more freedom, choice and privacy.
In Belek there is everything from The Gardeners Wine Bar, The Pasha bar (bit expensive) great reataurants like Mis Cafe, Turkish 01 Adana restaurant, The Sunset Bar & restaurant, to the Mediterranean Balik Ev fish restaurants to yes even a Chinese restaurant and all at those silly low prices that you used to be able to get in Spain and Portugal 25 to 30 years ago.In Kadriye there is an Irish Bar, an Italian restaurant, and the British run Bar Bekar halfway between Belek and Kadriye. A good evening out with dinner and drinks can and should often cost less than £10 per person. The variety is excellent and the service and quality of the food is almost always outstanding.
In addition to this there is plenty of history to go and see in the shape of the, still working, amphitheatre at Aspendos where evening concerts are quite common. Also the ruins at Perge & Side, the old harbour at Antalya, or if you wish a trip to the Taurus mountains just an hours drive away where you can normally ski between November and March and which makes for some stunning views on a mountain walk at any time of year.
The Mediterranean sea is just 800 metres away from Belek centre and there some more lovely restaurants and bars at the beach parks for both Belek and Kadriye, which are sited on the two beautiful sandy public beaches. On the north side of Belek there is an authentic Turkish Hammam with Turkish baths, mud treatments and massage facilities to relax after the rigours of your tough round of golf or your walk around the Roman ruins and all at remarkably good prices.On the shopping front there are some fantastic deals to be done in the jewellery stores here and also plenty of great clothes, shoes and handbag bargains in the shops in town, not to mention the daytime & night time street markets once a week. Don’t forget they are expecting you to bargain and the Turkish word for discount is “indirim”.
As all around resorts go there is little to rival Belek for great location, and plenty of things to do.
There are two ATM's at AKBANK in Belek on the main road through the town and there is now an HSBC cash machine in the centre of town near the Swan Roundabout on the road going north. There are also other ATM's in Belek town centre and also many ATM's in the neighbouring town of Kadriye and also in the much bigger nearby town of Serik.