Located near the city of Antalya on Turkey’s south coast, Belek is one of the most highly regarded golf destinations in the world. The town and surrounding area have hosted major tournaments such as the PGA European Seniors and the Ladies European Tour, and boast an impressive array of world-class golf courses. What’s more, the courses are attached to big-name luxury hotels – perfect spots to mingle with fellow cosmopolitan golf enthusiasts. Read on for some of the best courses in the area.
Ranked 6th in the country by top100golfcourses.com, the National is only 40 minutes from Antalya airport. Its most striking feature is its natural beauty: the course passes over gentle terrain and through pine and eucalyptus trees, offering a fantastic view of the imposing, snow-covered Taurus Mountains. Don’t let the dramatic backdrop fool you, though – the National is a sunny, idyllic course for most of the year, making it one of the most pleasant, reliable places to play golf in the world.
The course was opened in 1994, and is attached to European Ryder Cup star David Feherty. It’s almost 6,300 metres long, including a 2016 expansion with a brand-new 9-hole loop named ‘Ada’. Ada brings the total number of holes up to 27, with the first two loops, Irmak and Tuna, offering more than enough to test your skills. And once you’re done, you can enjoy the view a little more, basking with a drink on the National’s beautiful terrace.
Montgomerie Maxx Royal
This 18-hole course was opened in 2008 as part of a massive redevelopment project, and comes attached to a prestigious golf academy and a 5-star hotel. When building the course, the Papillon Hotel Group was careful to ensure environmental sustainability, leading to a unique design in which natural sandy hazards separate the well-maintained fairway from the natural vegetation in the rough. Eight natural lakes around the course out with some tricky water hazards.
The attention to detail paid off, as Montgomerie is a registered participant in the Golf Environment Organisation’s (GEO) certification programme. Currently ranked 7th among Turkish golf courses, Montgomerie has fast earned a solid reputation, hosting Turkey’s inaugural European Tour event, the Turkish Airlines Open, in November 2013.
The highest-raked course in the country, the par 72, 260-acre Carya also opened in 2008 and has also hosted major events, including the Turkish Challenge since 2009 and the 4th Turkish Airlines Open in November 2016.
5-time Open Champion Peter Thompson’s golf architecture company, Thompson, Perrett & Lobb, developed the course, and they’ve done an excellent job constructing a British-style course on the Mediterranean. Unlike British courses, however, the last 9 holes of the course are floodlit, allowing golfers to play well into the evening. Carya’s 621-yard 6th hole is the longest in Turkey, but its 16th hole is perhaps more notable for its unique tee-off, where golfers hit their first shot from the roof of a villa.
Designed by David Jones and European Golf Design in the late 1990s, the PGA Sultan is attached to the 440-room Sirene Belek Golf Hotel, and co-hosted the Eisenhower Trophy World Amateur Team Championship in October 2012.
The course has many tricky holes, requiring golfers to think strategically as they place their shots. The last of the front 9 holes, for example, poses a dilemma: players can take their tee-shot to the left, setting up an easier approach to the green but risking water if their angle is off, or they can take the safer drive down the right, adding at least two shots to their score. The hole is aptly named ‘The Choice’. Many others feature woods, banks, water and bunkers, and the narrow 476-yard 12th hole is perhaps the most difficult on any Belek course.
Once you’ve played the PGA Sultan, you’ve truly earned yourself a relaxed drink at the course’s excellent clubhouse!
Further out to the east is the punishing, 7,536-yard long Lykia Links. Ranked 3rd in the country, this course is the brainchild of Perry Dye, son of golfing legend Pete Dye, and earns its reputation for its fiendish difficulty. The rolling fairways are inviting, but the natural sand dunes are tricky hazards, and getting out of the rough is especially arduous. Combine these features with deep bunkers enclosed by railway sleepers and especially small putting-greens, and you’ve got the sort of course that rarely comes to mind when we think of ‘resort golf’. The 7th and 8th holes are pretty, curving around a natural freshwater lake, but Lykia takes pride in being a test for visiting golfers.
How to Get to Belek
Antalya airport is a popular destination and not difficult to get to. Airlines such as Thomas Cook run non-stop flights from London Gatwick, in a journey that takes four hours in total. You have a far greater range of options, though, if you’re willing to endure a stopover, with operators such as Pegasus and Turkish Airlines stopping in Istanbul.
Where to Stay
Kaya Palazzo Golf Resort – An all-inclusive beachfront resort, catering largely to the VIP crowd, Kaya is a truly world-class hotel. Alongside basic amenities like free WiFi and satellite TV, its rooms also offer private bathrooms and often terraces. You’ll enjoy access to a 200m private beach, multiple swimming pools, an enormous garden, five à la carte restaurants and a wide choice of bars.
Voyage Belek Golf & Spa Hotel – Another all-inclusive hotel with a private beach, Voyage takes special pride in its spa centre and Vitamin Bar – perfect for relaxing in luxury. With 8 restaurants, including specialists in Italian, Japanese, Mexican and Turkish cuisine, and 9 bars ranging from a Beach Bar to an Underground Disco Bar to a Sunset Jazz Bar, Voyage has more than enough to keep you off the free WiFi and away from the satellite TV.
Adora Golf Resort Hotel – Just six minutes from the beach lies Adora, another luxury hotel with a lot to offer. Free WiFi and satellite TV are once again the least of the attractions. Every room has an en suite and a private balcony, as well as a well-stocked minibar and complementary fruit basket waiting for you on arrival. Away from your room, the hotel has four swimming pools, its own waterpark, four à la carte restaurants and a luxury spa centre offering massages, saunas and steam baths.
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