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?!

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

Excited about 7 days pure golf in Turkey

Today I finalised the booking of my golf trip in May. I’m very excited about 7 days of pure golf in the Turkish sun, staying in a great hotel with all amenities you could imagine. Definitely golf is priority number one here, but I guess I get some leisure time at the pool as well.

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These are the courses that I decided to play:

Remember, there are more than 15 championship courses near the small city of Belek at the Turkish Riviera. Some of them are unknown treasures, some are host to international pro tournaments, like the Sultan for the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final or the Montgomerie Maxx Royal for the Turkish Open, a European Tour event later this year.

This is the hotel I’ll be staying at: Rixos Premium Belek and I booked all that through yourgolftravel, a UK-based golf travel agency with a massive range of offered trips and golf breaks.

Merhaba Belek! Trip to the Turkish golf paradise planned

Happy birthday to ME, happy birthday to ME, …

You may have recognised in some older posts that I’m currently not very happy with my current golf endeavors. The 2012 season was pretty lame due to the fact that it’s surprisingly tough to find an accessible and affordable golf course in and around London for regular play. And regular play is the only thing you need for steady improvement, lowering the handicap and just to feel as a proper and athletic golfer from time to time.

That’s what I missed big time last year!

The 2013 season has just begun and I don’t see any major difference other than the fact that I met some blokes in the office who might be interested in heading to the course a bit more often. But that’s really everything that would give me a slightly better feeling than last year.

Therefore I thought to myself: Mate, you have to take control over your golfing here! Otherwise you’ll end with only 8.5 rounds per year again! Do you want that? NO! You don’t! It’s your birthday on top of this. Go make yourself a present!

So I took the advice (from myself) and planned a golf trip in spring. Checked out some websites, some travel agencies and some golf travel companies. I ended up with my favourite www.yourgolftravel.com, sorted out trips to the US, to Asia and to South Africa (mainly due to price tag reasons), also sorted out Greece (Germans are not welcome currently), Spain, Italy and France… and ended up with a truly golfing paradise in the eastern Mediterranean, in the Turkish Riviera near Antalya: a city’s name which leads to immediate grin on every European golfers’ face: Belek. More than 15 incredible high-quality golf courses in walking distance!

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That’s the plan for May: pack the golf bag, head for Heathrow Airport (somehow, with all that stuff), fly to Antalya, drive to Belek, enjoy the 5-star hotel, play golf in the morning, go swimming in the afternoon, relax in the evening, do this for 7 days in a row and then come back – in total (golf-)happiness!

The plan foresees only 5 rounds of golf during the 7 days of stay, but I reckon that’s really enough. If I do feel bored with only 5 rounds however, I’d book just another tee time in the afternoon to have 36 holes played that day. Will see.

These are the golf courses that I plan to play:

  1. Gloria, New Course
  2. Gloria, Old Course
  3. Carya Golf Club
  4. Antalya Golf Club, PGA Sultan Course
  5. Lykia Links

And these are the corresponding videos of the beautiful courses:

Continue reading Merhaba Belek! Trip to the Turkish golf paradise planned