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best golf courses in Turkey

Seven reasons to book a golf break in Belek

This is why the Turkish resort is one of Europe's leading destinations. Our golf travel expert has been five times, so what can you expect?
 

You probably know someone who’s been. You will have read about it in magazines. You might have seen the European Tour tournaments there. And you’ll have seen the pros tweeting about how good it is when they’re there. But you might still have queries about what golf in Belek, the ‘Turkish Riviera’, is really like.

1. It’s safe…

This is probably your first query. There were incidents in Turkey four years ago that for one year meant Belek was a lot more quiet than usual.

Those incidents were in Istanbul, which is more than 400 miles away, and there hasn’t been any for years.

carya

And you also don’t even now have to travel via Istanbul, with lots of flights going direct to Antalya from several UK airports.

Once in the modern Antalya airport, you will be picked up by transfer bus and within half an hour, you are driving through the security gates of your resort hotel.

The security at hotels is impressive with even the beach also patrolled. Belek is as safe as any other destination.

2. Golf in Belek is off the charts

Probably your next query. Are the courses actually any good?

Hmmm, yes they are.

I would say five are excellent, another six are really good and the rest are totally, totally pleasant.

Belek has got its golf right, which is a good effort considering it only started there in 1994 and has no previous pedigree.

Regnum Carya

The stars of the show are Carya – designed by Peter Thomson, and a beautiful woodland-heathland course that is now the home to the Turkish Airlines Open – and Lykia Links, located 25 minutes’ drive along the coast, which is a gorgeous-looking seaside course.

Cornelia is also outstanding, with three loops of nine that are a thoughtful but testing Sir Nick Faldo design.

Montgomerie Maxx is every inch the championship-style venue while PGA Turkey’s Sultan is tough and conditioned immaculately.

3. Great strength in depth

It’s arguably even more impressive that the courses just behind the big names are of such high quality. This category is led by the National, which is now the sister course to Carya, and is improving all the time so is close to being part of the elite group.

It was actually the first course to be built in Belek, so set the standard very high.

The second course at PGA Turkey is also first rate – and in fact many will possibly prefer the less severe Pasha.

Then you have Gloria, with its three very evenly balanced courses with the Old probably the pick but backed up so well by the New. And in the likes of both courses at Sueno and you really aren’t going to be disappointed wherever you play.

Cornelia

4. It’s no hassle to get to

The only downside to a holiday in a Belek used to be it was a pain to get to because you always had to go via Istanbul’s chaotic and sprawling hub.

Well, Istanbul now has a shiny new efficient airport, so it’s a pleasant experience if you do have to take that route.

But adding hugely to the appeal of Belek these days are the much-improved air links to Antalya. Now, low-fare airlines fly to Antalya direct and once you’re there, you’re in your hotel within 40 minutes of getting in your transfer.

5. Incredible value

This is the bit that will have you closing down that webpage researching Spanish and Portuguese resorts…because they simply can’t compete with the value offered in Belek.

Regnum Carya

Probably aided by the Turkish lira’s independence from the euro, the cost of these high-quality holidays is staggeringly low.

And it’s not just in European terms that Belek is great value – you won’t find better value for money anywhere in the world.

The number of rounds, the transfers, the limitless food, all the drinks, and jaw-dropping five-star accommodation come at frankly almost unbelievable prices…

And of course as it’s all inclusive, you pay for it all before you leave so you know exactly how much you’re shelling out.

PGA National Antalya

6. Luxury writ large

You might wonder whether the hotels can really be that nice? For the prices you pay.

Well they are. These hotels are opulent and modern and offer five-star luxury as heavenly as anywhere in the world.

They come complete with spas, tennis courts, football pitches and a myriad swimming pools and water sports, while the food they serve – whether in the a la carte restaurants or the immense buffets – is sensational.

Lykia Links

7. It’s the weather, obviously

All this is very well, but there’s no doubt that if Belek had standard Central European whether it wouldn’t be nearly as popular.

But it doesn’t, so it is.

It is unquestionably a year-round destination for golf and its swimming pool season is as long as April to October – and lots of hotels even have heated outdoor pools if it is ever cloudy.

This is a short-haul, winter sun option. It’s genuinely that good.

Chris Bertram

Chris Bertram is a specialist in all things golf courses.
He was born and brought up in Dumfriesshire and has been a sports journalist since 1996, initially as a junior writer with National Club Golfer magazine.
Chris then spent four years writing about football and rugby union for the Press Association but returned to be Editor and then Publisher of NCG.
He has been freelance since 2010 and spends the majority of his time playing golf and writing about the world’s finest golf courses.

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