Belek planning underway

To set the scene in case you are not aware, Belek is a small town in Turkey. It‘s situated on the south coast that they call „Turkish Riviera“ and actually there is one 5-star hotel next to each other right on the Mediterranean coastal strip — and right behind those hotels, there are numerous outstanding golf courses waiting to be tackled.

But you knew all this, didn‘t you. I made a trip to Belek already couple of years ago and managed to play five courses during my 7-day stay at lovely Rixos Premium Belek. To check out these rounds, please read the articles with the Belek 2013 tag on this site.

Now it’s time, we figured as a family with 2 kids that weren’t there in 2013 and as it’s already almost a decade ago and also as Belek has so much to offer in terms of hotel quality, beaches and what makes a great beach family holiday — it was pretty easy to decide to go.

No question will we make the best out of our 10-day trip and I will surely squeeze in some rounds of golf. It will be hot mid-July, granted, but nothing that will worry me to be honest. Golf season is over then, just makes the golf courses less crowded, I hope. 50+ sunscreen, loads of water, two shirts and a cart, and good to go. Can’t be that different from playing in Dubai if you‘d ask me.

In other words, we can‘t wait to board that plane to be honest. We are currently in the planning phase. The missus is having an eye on what‘s important to take for the kids and I‘m looking at the adult amenities and golf prep that‘s equally necessary. First things first, right? ;)

Obviously the flight will go via Antalya which is a short car ride from Belek. Antalya itself has loads to offer for tourists but it‘s more Belek that caters for exquisite hotels and golf. As well as for international soccer teams in the off-season by the way.

Continue reading Belek planning underway

Belek on my mind

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I don’t know why but my thoughts circled around another trip to Belek today. I have no idea why on earth it hit me today, especially because I do already have golf trips in the making but it felt good today to think about a new trip to Turkey soon.

During my last trip to Belek I played the Gloria New, Carya, Cornelia, Maxx Royal and the Sultan at Antalya (Check the Belek 2013 tag for more information). If I would go back to the Turkish golf mecca at some point, I’d go for the following courses:

  • Gloria, Old Course
  • Lykia Links
  • Antalya GC, Pasha Course

And I would most probably play the Carya, Cornelia and the Maxx Royal again: all great golf courses, really liked them!

Staying in Belek is easy and difficult at the same time. There are so many superb 5-star hotel resorts that it’s actually quite tricky to decide for the best in the end. What I thought would be quite a nice tour through south-west Turkey is this:

  • Spend couple of days in Didim (and visit family),
  • Spend a week in Bodrum (the Turkish Monaco and enjoy the sun, sea and jet-set life),
  • Spend a week in Belek and play golf (are 5 rounds enough?)

Sounds not too bad, huh? The question is: 2015 or 2016?!

Turkey is really serious about its golf commitment

thy_worldfinal_1This May I had the pleasure to stay in Belek, Turkey for a week full of golf. I played 5 different courses, all in immaculate condition and beautifully laid into the (planted) pine trees. Belek is an impressive golf mecca, no doubt about it, and my absolute favourite courses are the Cornelia and the Carya. But as well Monty’s Maxx Royal is a very, very decent club.

This is exactly where this year’s Turkish Open will be held. To be precise: “The Turkish Airlines Open presented by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture”. A very long name for a very short tradition as it’s the inaugural event. Last year the Antalya Golf Club in Belek hosted the World Golf Final, a golf tournament which was not on the regular tour schedule but attracted many high class golf players because Turkey and Turkish Airlines have put a lot of money on the table – for the winning pot but as well for just playing as well – a signing bonus heaven!

Obviously it turned into a success as we have the first Turkish Airlines Open this year from 7-10 November at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal Golf Club in Belek – not the most beautiful course around there I’d say but without a doubt a setting which is more than tour-like and fully deserve to be a regular tour event, especially being one of the 4 prestigious tournaments of the “Final Series” before the golf year comes to an end at the Race to Dubai.

Not bad for such a no-name golf country. There’s no professional Turkish tour player, the whole country has not more than 23 golf courses, 20 of them in Belek and as a result, only a tiny amount of Turkish people really play, i.e. get a chance to play. But the golf tourism booms at the Turkish Riviera near Antalya – and the country and Turkish Airlines profit from that and are therefore for sure willing to pay their stake to promote the region even further. Easy!

Please read my comments and experiences about the course here.

More information about the tournament:

And here some impressions of last year’s World Golf Final:

My personal Turkey golf trip recap

One week of golf! Sounded to good to be true. Especially in my case since I haven’t played a round for a very long time. Therefore I couldn’t wait for this trip to start and was über-excited the days before.

I did extensive reading and preparation in order to play the best or most suitable courses and I’m pretty sure I ended up with the perfect combination. All of these courses I played I could recommend playing (to the more skilled player probably, not a beginner). All of them are fantastic looking, challenging, well-kept and placed in a stunning environment. If you love pine tree settings, then Belek is the place to be! It’s a pine tree golf heaven.

As a recap, I played the following courses. Please use the tag Belek2013 or click on the links below to read my course reviews (sorted by my personal course preference).

  1. Cornelia Golf Club
  2. Carya Golf Club
  3. Antalya Golf Club, PGA Sultan Course
  4. The Montgomerie Maxx Royal
  5. Gloria Golf Club, New Course

In a next trip someday I would like to play the National, the Gloria Old and the Sueno Pines. Probably I would check out the Lykia Links Course as well although I’m not a big fan of links style (so far) and would replay some of the ones I played in this trip, starting with the Cornelia and Carya, my favourites (which is sort of unfair to all the other fantastic courses I played).

I booked all my stuff via yourgolftavel (excluding flights). They fixed the hotel, the tee times and the transfer to the courses each day. The actual work was executed by Noyan Golf Travel, a local Belek agency that operates the drivers who pick you up, get you to the course and collect you again after your round, they were very helpful and always supportive.

All in all a great trip to this golf mecca Belek. The town is not offering much other than the most beautiful golf courses in this part of the world. Paired with sunshine on 360 days a year you definitely should consider to come!

Antalya Golf Club (PGA Sultan Course)

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Belek, Turkey 2013 day 5/5 and therefore final day of my short little Turkey golf trip, which by the way turned out to be very successful. That’s most likely not the last time I come here. Next time in company though!

The course that I left till the end is the PGA Sultan Course at Antalya Golf Club. the course was created in 2003 and is therefore one of the older courses in this area. The holes follow through old existing forest and have a more open character around the clubhouse. That’s as well the part of the course where huge water hazard come into play, i.e. have magnetic effect on golf balls. If you take the approach shot of the 18th as an example, here you have water to the left, water to the right and the fairway is not wider than 20 paces!!

But I don’t want to scare you off, it’s a wonderful course and without a doubt one of the best ones around here. End of last year Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel, Justin Rose and some others came here together for the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final (and the 7m € purse obviously). You see, the course is tested by champions and deserved a vistit and test round of Golficiency! Lee Westwood holds the course record with a stunning 61, and he even scored a double-bogey that day!

I was grouped together with 2 old chaps from England, Rob and Dave, two golf buddies from the Exeter area in England’s south-west. These guys were really in good mood and we had a lot of fun, making jokes, telling stories, making up some golf fairytales, that sort. Dave mentioned the next time he will talk to Lee Westwood he’ll mention my name and my good drives… that was just trash-talk but we did that all day and had lots of fun. Both had the same handicap like me, 16, but some weird swings. Dave was more or less just using his arms and to cope with the resulting slice he was aligning himself in a 45 degree angle to the left. He must have scared off some players on the next fairway I bet.

The course was very busy and we had to wait on many holes. That’s I guess the story of this trip: get a cart to cope with the heat and don’t expect to get a round done in under 5.5 hours! That’s a bit of a shame really but in my opinion that’s because there are some players on the course that play really slow, probably lied with their handicaps because nobody is checking really. So put some 54ers on the course and you create a massive traffic, especially during the golfing season, which slowly but surely comes to an end by the way end of May.

Some other words on the course itself, it was designed by European Golf Design and is a beauty, no doubt about it. The clubhouse has a very clean and cold feel to it but the holes can feel pretty cosy when you like this setup and when your scores keep up with that!

In general the fairways are narrow but not too extreme. You always know where to hit and when you have the yardage book and a GPS watch, nothing can happen to you. You even find most of the balls as the overall setup is quite open, a bit like the Carya or the Gloria New.

Remarkable are some of the par 3s as they are approx 200 meters long! It’s not the case for me, but the other lads in my group were firing their drivers full throttle to reach the par 3.

I had some very nice 250/260m drives, straight and mid-trajectory how I like them. These were especially appreciated for hole number 12, reading in the yardage book “maybe the toughest par 4 in Europe”. Obviously that’s nonsense! It’s 422m long and I reached the green in 2.

One other remarkable hole is the 16; a par 5 dogleg right, water all the way to the right and the green is accross the pond or the stream. Very scary! The width of the fairway is tiny for the most part and one has to be very precise with yardages and direction, otherwise you don’t only lose one ball.

The par 3s are not as spectacular as on the other courses I played this week. The only exeption probably the 8, 180m long, lake in front, lake to the right of the green, stream to the left and not much grass to work with. Very beautiful hole.

Speaking of very beautiful, the whole course is a must play when you are in this area. Due to my intensive preparation for this trip I did cherry-picking and only played absolute top courses that I could recommend to everybody. The brother of the Sultan, the Pasha Course for instance is supposed to be a more laid-back course, not so tricky, wider fairways, probably less water. If you’re interested in both, fairness and challenge, then this golf club is perfect for you, the Sultan for the challenge, the Pasha for the fairness.

Use the tag Belek2013 to read all course reviews of that trip.

Follow this link for more information: www.agc.com.tr

Montgomerie Maxx Royal

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Belek, Turkey 2013 day 4/5 of my little trip, after one day of relaxation and battery re-charging on the beach and at the pool. I felt much better and was looking forward to the next big course that waited for me. This time it was the Montgomerie Maxx Royal, formerly known as the Papillon Golf Club and the venue of this year’s Turkish Open in November as a regular European Tour event. Maxx Royal, the premium luxury hotel accross the street took over the course once they completed the hotel in mid-2011. The golf property was already built and opedend in 2008.

As the name says Colin Montgomerie was responsible for designing this course and since I didn’t manage to play the Montgomerie in Dubai last year I was happy playing this one during my little Turkey trip.

As you can imagine the entrance, the driveway and the clubhouse itself were once again very impressive! So obviously with all Belek golf clubs you get that kind of wow-factor before you even touched ground at the first tee.

After I bought a logo ball and a yardage book (the latter still showing the Papillon logo, obviously a remainder since 2011) I was heading to the driving range for some last-minute shots. 10 balls later I made my way to the starter and met my group partner for today, Heinz, a German guy from Cologne. And really the most typical guy from Cologne you can imagine: everything was classic; handshake, dialect, swearing, beer-thirst and outspokenness. We got along very well and it was a very funny round in the end at which scoring was not important anymore after, I guess, hole 4!

But back to the course itself! It has a similar feeling to the Gloria New for my liking, comparing the setup, the tree lines and hazards. The only thing that’s different is the numerous huge waste areas Monty has put here and there to make the golfer play out of sand more often than usual (in case you missed the fairway occasionally). You’ll find these waste areas on most of these holes at Maxx Royal and they create a complete new sort of hazard in front of greens, left or right of the fairway in driving landing zones etc. In the end the fairways get tighter and tighter and the golfer has either to adapt his play immensly (re-clubbing) or has to be quite sure he’s able to strike the ball straight as an arrow. If you do neither of that, like me, you end up in trouble, which I did…

First big downside of that club to me is the proximity to streets, commercial areas and water fun park facilities of several hotel complexes, so there is a constant noise level around the golfer. It could be such a perfect course would it be detached from all that fuzz and a bit more remote. But it’s not and everybody has to deal with it. Heinz wasn’t distracted at all. He played the course the third time this week and was used to it, he was more looking for the service cart for ordering a new round of beer.

We were playing from the yellow tees, which I thought were the men’ tees and which I did the whole week, but here at the Montgomerie it seemed to be the ladies tournament tees, they only have 4 not 5 tee boxes. I noticed that not before we were half way through our round and there was no sense in changing that thereafter.

The course was jam-packed with people! We were stuck in the middle of 4 foursomes, so no way to speed up a little. Hence we chatted along and had good fun anyhow. It really surprised me that is was so busy. The Cornelia was so empty two days before and the Monty course I think is the most expensive course in Belek currently (up to 150€ plus cart etc.). That was, next to my lousy golf, the only thing that annoyed me, it’s expensive but still so busy that you can’t play at your own pace. Most of the time there were 3 groups of players on each par 4 hole and we had situations in which we joined the 2 groups in front of us at a tee box waiting. That was a bit annoying I have to say. But it was warm, we had drinks, we had a comfortable cart and stayed in good mood most of the time.

The course has five par 5s and five par 3s. Some of the par 5s are probably reachable in two, others are not at all. There’s water coming into play at a decent amount of holes and bunkering and waste areas add up to tricky shots as already explained. The overall course character is again comparable to the Gloria New, pine trees all over the place but you will find most of your balls that end up in the rough.

It was very windy during the round which caused us a bit of trouble with water hazards. So if you wanna go diving over there you most likely will find some Golficiency logo balls and some Penfold Black Hearts.
Most memorable for me in terms of holes is the 16th I guess: a short par 3 with a huge waste area in front of the green. It’s supposed to be reminiscent of the third hole at Pine Valley.

So overall this course is best for those golfers who strike the ball very well, can probably shape the ball a bit and are pretty accurate in direction and distance as the landing areas are pretty small. For all the others: learn playing from the sand, the dropping zones or out of the trees! It will happen!

If you’d ask me whether I would play here again, yes I would, but please under other circumstances. The course itself is very nice and deserves international attention for sure, even though it’s not the best course in Belek for me.

Use the tag Belek 2013 to read all course reviews of that trip.

Follow this link for more information: www.montgomeriemaxxroyal.com

Cornelia Golf Club

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Belek, Turkey 2013 day 3/5 of my Belek trip and it already exceeded my expectations! The beauty of the sport of golf is the variety. Nobody in the world would fly abroad in order to play tennis and to have a look at the tennis courts over there. But golf is different, golf is not standardised (well at least not so much) and every course in the world is different.

I started my journey because I heard so many nice things about the courses and the hotels over here I just had to come at some point. I did my preparation, watched tons of youtube videos and got a feeling for the courses, but you have no idea how much more you experience when you are actually there! No words and no videos can describe the feeling that one has standing on one of these tee boxes just before you fire off a drive into the beauty of a Belek course.

I learned my lesson: never underestimate being on-site for real! Sometimes it’s just priceless!

Back to the course, it turned out to be 33 degrees and with my 13:00 tee time I got roasted just walking back and forth on the sun terrace. So I decided to take a cart today. I entered the massive club house (again even a bit bigger than yesterday’s at Carya) and realised it’s not much going on here, everything was very quiet and relaxed, hardly anyone present. “Good morning, Mr. Rose?” someone greeted me, they were obviously sort of waiting for me. That was a first stunner. I checked in, bought the obligatory yardage book and logo ball and went for a cart this time (35€ extra). The lady showed me the way to the locker rooms, my clubs were brought to the cart and all I had to do is sit and start driving.

Again, I really love this service! The guy who assisted me with the cart turned out to be the starter at the same time, he showed me the direction to the range and the first tee and said I could start whenever I wanted, I’d play on my own. That was a surprise as the day before at Carya the tee 1 was full of people. Here I saw nobody and started my round, full of joy and excitement. I must have had a constant grin on my face I guess… Especially when I realised that I’m more or less alone on this course!! Just me, very few others and a batallion of greenkeepers (who were a bit disturbing for two or three holes). But no kidding, I was playing at a fairly quick pace (just taking some pictures here and there but racing the cart down the fairway) but the first time I saw the group in front of me was at the 14th hole! Can you imagine that? I’m still not quite sure what the reason for that was.
It definitely wasn’t an issue with the course. It’s a sheer beauty and the second stunner of the day. I really struggle to say which one is prettier or which one I’d prefer, Carya or Cornelia, they are of slightly different style. One is lined with with pine trees but fairly open with a subtle heathland character, the latter is filled with pine trees as well but has so many bushes, you would characterise this as proper parkland I guess and it remained its forest feeling somehow.

Cornelia is a Faldo Design course as of 2008. I already played a Faldo course at the Emirates GC in Dubai but I can’t really say I sensed a similar signature here. On the other hand, why should there be something like a similarity between these both? The topography is completely different and every course deserves its uniqueness in my opinion.

To cut a long story short, the course is absolutely gorgeous! It’s a 27 hole course that you can play in different settings. And here’s the story: Cornelia was a famous woman in the ancient Rome, daughter of Publius Scipio Africanus, who defeated Hannibal in the second Punic War. She got married to a famous politician and bore him 12 children of which only 3 reached adulthood: Sempronia, Tiberius and Gaius; hence the names of the three 9 hole courses you find here. You can book three settings of 18 holes; the Kings Course, the Queens Course and the Prince Course. The difference is just the chronology of the 9 hole courses you’ll play. Pretty good idea, pretty well thought through for my liking, I just realised it a bit too late as I was flipping through my yardage book and couldn’t find the right hole, since hole 1 is therefore not always ‘hole 1’, but once you get that it’s pretty easy to follow (it just didn’t help that both hole 1 and hole 10 for the King Course setting are similar looking dogleg-right holes, one is Tiberius 1, the other is Sempronia 1).

The holes themselves are fantastic! The course was in perfect condition (probably besides two or three tee boxes) and boy, had I fun! After two exhausting days of golf my swing wasn’t in perfect condition anymore and 33 degrees are sort of responsible for that as well, but next to my worsened ball striking it was a very enjoyable day which I will never forget.

The distances between holes are sometimes pretty long, hence I would recommend using a cart anyway, even in the winter, especially when you’re going for all the 27 holes.

From uphill par 3s to downhill par 4s, extensively long par 5s and double-doglegs; you really get everything one could ask for. Faldo created a little masterpiece here and I really appreciate what he did. Compared to Carya there are more wasteland areas, a little less bunkering I guess and the same kind of fairway ondulation. Water comes into play at some holes but always very subte and doable. The most rememberable stretch of holes for me is Tiberius 5 to 8: first a long par 5 with water to the right after the dogleg left, playing towards the clubhouse. Next hole is a beautiful uphill par 3 called ‘Plateau’ followed by a hole called ‘Faldo’s Choice’. The yardage book says: “Faldo’s Choice is simple. Either play safe towards the higher ground or go for the green in one shot”. I pared that one with a nice 4 and left happily to the next hole called ‘Twins’. It’s a dogleg left with water left all the way. You can carry the lake with approx 220 meters and manage to avoid a set of pines and a set of bunkers (the twins).

It’s not fair to leave out all the other holes as they are of similar beauty, just have a look at the pictures to get a feeling for the setting. Only one remark I wanted to make, at Sempronia 6, i.e. my hole 15, I hammered the drive towards the green, just left it two meters short to reach the par 4 in one. I executed a lousy chip and needed 3 stupid putts to score a 5… but I already mentioned that it wasn’t my best golfing day, scoring-wise. Just saying…

After I parked my cart I thought to myself I should have played the last 9 holes as well to see all 27, especially since I was so quick and got plenty of time before I got picked up. Next time! It was definitely not the last time I played this course, not after I had to read somewhere on a website that the Gaius holes (the ones I haven’t played) are even better than all the others! How’s that even possible?

Use the tag Belek 2013 to read all course reviews of that trip.

Follow this link for more information: www.corneliaresort.com

Carya Golf Club

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Belek, Turkey 2013 day 2/5  of my trip to Belek and my iPhone already told me, it was getting even warmer here! 32 degrees at a max, in the shadow! Day 1 with 30 degrees was almost unbearable walking and I lost strength and concentration through two thirds of the course.
First impression of Carya; poshest driveway to a clubhouse so far. The Carya clubhouse is much bigger than the one at Gloria and it is much nicer actually. It offers even more amenities, a bigger pro shop and a nice sun terrace facing the 18th green. Carya has ‘only’ one 18 hole course, opened in 2007 and was designed by the 5 time Open Champion Peter Thompson. The course is an interesting combination between parkland and heathland course, which is not typical for this region. Pine trees all over the place and the most beautiful bunkers I’ve ever seen! Well you normally avoid bunkers but these are really different, bright white sand and interestingly manicured. Fantastic looking!

The hole setup and the design is comparable to the one of Gloria New the day before. Nevertheless everything looks much nicer, greener, more pleasant, more perfect. I was astonished that I would beat the impression I had of Gloria New just the next day, really haven’t expected that!

I was grouped together with three Nowegian IT-experts who did their second trip to Belek, this one for 10 days! They were not very chatty but a nice goup walking with, having in mind that I actually wanted to take a cart since it got 32 degrees. But anyhow, I managed to finish the round, totally exhausted, 5 blisters on the feet and ready for a long cold shower in the hotel. We had to wait quite often and long as the course was totally jam-packed. In the end we played I guess over 5 hours and my hotel shuttle arrived the second I had my final putt on the 18th green.

Please have a look at the pictures, it’s really tough to explain a course’s beauty without referring to some examples. The combination pine trees, heather and white sand bunkers speaks for itself and creates great memories I will never forget! The 3rd hole for instance, ‘Dire Straits’, with a group of huge pine trees in the middle of the fairway: the perfect hole for advanced course management! Assess your abilities and decide to go easy right and the long way to the green or try the dangerous narrow left part of the fairway with a better angle to the pin… I wasn’ very brave by the way and scored a bogey.

Another remarkable example is hole 6, Turkey’s longest golf hole, 573m from the champions tee!! These black boxes are really far off I can tell you. The name of that hole: ‘Long’… Or the next one ‘The Siren’: one of the most beautiful holes of the course; a spectacular uphill par-3 with tons of bunkers, nestled in a bunch of… guess what… pine trees. Awesome hole and a real signature to this course!

Water comes into play a bit too, but again, more on the back 9 surprisingly. If you can shape your ball, you really love the doglegs on this course. I tried to shape from time to time but ended up in the… you say it… yes, pine trees! The good thing about them though is that in the bottom part they are usually pretty free of branches and bushes which eases finding a ball a bit. Just a bit…

Parts of the course in the beginning unfotunately run along a street, some residential areas and a mosque. So by the time the muezzin called for prayer we had to pray for our next ball not to go into water, bunkers or yes, pine trees.

One last remark on this beautiful course: even though holes 17 and 18 are fairly easy looking, just straight, they gave me the feeling of Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, CA. I can’t really say why and it’s not particular holes I had in mind but the finish direction clubhouse strongly reminded me of that.

It was a long and tiring day I can tell you, more exhausted, more blisters but totally happy having played the best course in the world in my opinion (at that time). It definitely is prettier than the Gloria New. I realised I have to create my own little Belek ranking in the end, seems a good idea, for the sake of others who want to play here. I’ll definitely come back some day, I’m still impressed with these courses.

Use the tag Belek 2013 to read all course reviews of that trip.

Follow this link to receive more information: www.caryagolf.com

Gloria Golf Club (New Course)

Belek, Turkey 2013 day 1/5. The Gloria Resort is a huge one! The complex includes 3 beachfront hotels, 3 golf courses, the spa, other sports facilities such as football pitches and so forth. In other words, Gloria is a big player in the Belek-business.

Speaking of golf courses, there are 3 courses on the premises: the 18 hole championship courses ‘Old’ and ‘New’ and a 9 hole course ‘Verde’. I only played the New Course but I was really impressed with it. After the 18 holes I really said to myself ‘That was the most beautiful course I’ve ever played!’ …having in mind that I played in Dubai and some posh courses around London too.

But it was easy to impress me! The clubhouse to start with is quite big and doesn’t lack a thing. I love pine trees and guess what, Belek seems to be the inventor of pine trees! In short, I really liked the course, the grass quality, the design, the ondulating fairways, the tricky par-3s and the island green 17th (I had a short birdie putt by the way but didn’t make it!)

The temperature was at 30 degrees and I was walking. After 13 holes I realized my power and strength weakened, my concentration too and my swing got a bit wobbly. I was just not as trained as I wished to be. That was actually my first round after more than 6 months without touching a golf club. Hence I, was expecting something like that but it’s tough realising that you can’t win the pot and the scores go down.

Some words on the course itself: The Gloria estate offers a big clubhouse from which you reach the three courses. For instance the New Course starts just at the sun terrace, everything’s pretty close. It was built in 2005, is a bit younger that the ‘Old’ sibling and has a more open feeling to it. However, there a pine trees all over the place. So don’t confuse open with links style!

I had a pre-booked tee time and originally was grouped together with a Dutch couple in a cart. Since this really didn’t make sense I proposed to walk on my own and leave them their own pace. It was fine but in retrospect I was quicker than them and had to wait quite often (which gave me time to take some pictures).

Water comes into play but not too often, more on the back 9 I’d say. But it’s not an easy course; most fairways are narrow and ondulated and in case your drive is not straight like an arrow you really have to wait for the ball to come to a rest to be fully assured it’s safe.

Parts of the course follow a street that you can see and hear, that’s definitely a downside, as well as the new Gloria Football Center, two pitches in the middle of the course to host the football teams’ winter break training facilities. A bit unattractive I have to say.

But I had a great day on the course and was happy waiting for the transfer back to the hotel. A good start to this golf break!

Use the tag Belek 2013 to read all course reviews of that trip.

Follow this website for more information: www.gloria.com.tr

Turkish golf mecca Belek, a dream destination?

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The small village of Belek grew in the last century from a minature town based on agriculture to a service city for golf and luxury tourism – with all the joining advantages and disadvantages.

Most vistors enter the ‘Turkish Golf Mecca’ from the west, after a flight to Antalya. Belek is just a 30 minutes cab ride from the airport and offers nothing else than 90% of all Turkish golf courses and pure luxury 5-star accommodation right at the sandy beach. Here you find one high-class resort next to the other. Basically it’s a chain of huge and luxurious hotel complexes which attract the guest (besides the golf) with beautiful weather, pine trees, pool landscapes, beach and hotel amenities that everyone can just dreams of.

The center of Belek is not very nice but only few people seem to notice or to bother; most of the guests barely leave the hotel premises, and when they do, they do it for one reason only: the golf!

Belek offers 18 golf courses as of now and it’s not surprising everything here seems to be related to golf somehow: you see signs to golf courses everywhere, signs to golf shops, signs to golf villas, golf facilities, golf travel agencies… just everything’s golf. Which is very interesting as the Turkish people in general are not interested in this sport at all. And I bet none of the native residents regularly enjoys a round at these ‘local’ sport facilities. For 99% of the people the hype about golf is just a way of doing a living. And it works well for some! With the expensive golf hotels there came golf courses which attracted people, more and more over the years, new courses and new hotels were built and it seems this trend is holding, eventhough there is no waterfront space left for new hotels! My ‘golf chauffeur’ (the guy who shuttled me to the courses) told me the other day they would need two more golf courses in Belek to accomodate the vast amount of people wanting to play in the winter season. In May, he said, that’s the end of the golf season, afterwards only a few are playing because it’s just too hot.

I wanted to come here for the same reasons as everybody else: weather, hotel quality and high-end golf courses, so I booked for one week to check that place out everybody is talking about. And boy I was not dissapointed, pretty lucky with my hotel, the Rixos Premium Belek, one of the biggest ones around here with sheer unilimited luxury if you can afford to pay the bill (I stayed in a standard room…) as I could imagine that one of the 24/7 fully serviced private villas on the property with private pools and private butler service are far from ‘easily affordable’. But what do you expect from a hotel with ‘premium’ in its name…

Coming back to golf again, the courses around here are not mediocre by all means, I can say that these courses are the most beautiful and most interesting ones I’ve ever played. It’s the combination of perfect designed and manicured golf courses, vast and luxurious club houses with everything available to please you pre- or post-round and the true Turkish hospitality and service, e.g. people assisting you dismounting bags from carts, offering club-cleaning or shoe-shine. Even when you are not using this service it definitely provides you with a feeling of ‘wow, these guys really care for me. What a nice feeling!’

Another word on the courses: these venues are world-class facilities, course design and quality that you barely find somewhere else. For sure there are other European top venues, but 18 next to each other?! Having said that, yes Belek is a dream destination for the avid golfer who knows how to strike the ball, appreciates both high quality courses and challenged play. The weather is a factor for sure. The temperature is hardly falling below 15 degrees in December/January and hence creates golfing dreams for 365 days a year. You should go sometime! It’s worth the 3 hours journey from most mayor European cities in my opinion!

I created reviews on the courses I played (Gloria New, Carya, Cornelia, Montgomerie Maxx Royal, Antalya PGA Sultan). Use the tag Belek 2013 to have a look at them.