Best golf courses in Turkey
In just 20 years Turkey's Belek has gone from a golfing backwater to a bona-fide big-hitter of the European game, thanks largely to its combination of superb courses, five-star all-inclusive accommodation and no less than 300 days of sunshine every year. We are often asked by our customers, what are the best golf courses in Turkey? Here’s a list of some of the top golf courses on the beloved golf coast…
The handiwork of five-time Open champion Peter Thomson, 2016 Turkish Airlines Open host, Carya, draws its inspiration from the classic heathland layouts of the Surrey/Berkshire sandbelt. More than a million sprigs of heather were imported in order to create a wonderfully scenic course that weaves through the pine forests. Special mention of the greens is deserved too – these are some of the finest you’ll ever putt on!
With three loops of nine designed by six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo – making three very different challenges - there’s plenty of great golf to be found among the pine forests and sandy ridges of Cornelia. Featuring tricky doglegs and shimmering lakes, the course is a strategic masterpiece that is extremely highly rated. And just to keep your game in top-top condition, the practice facilities are equally superb.
The only links-style course in the area, Lykia is a stunning seaside layout on the very edge of the Mediterranean. Running along a two-mile stretch of golden sand, the course boasts some amazing sea views. But don’t be distracted – with sleepered bunkers and plenty of contours, this Perry Dye (son of the great Pete Dye) course is a wonderful addition to the region.
Opened in 1997, Gloria Old Course is one of the oldest in Belek – it’s also still one of the very best. Plotting your way round is like negotiating a golfing minefield, with sand and water hazards lying in wait to put a big dent in your scorecard. A second 18-hole layout (New Course) was added in 2005 and is famed for its island green 17th that is reminiscent of TPC Sawgrass. A nine-hole practice course completes the set.
With two outstanding courses onsite, it’s little wonder that the Sueno resort is one of the most popular. The Pines probably edges the shorter Dunes course but in truth both courses play through the same wonderful landscape of sand and pine, with a few size able water hazards thrown in for good measure. Both courses features island green holes that will certainly live long in the memory.
Venue for the European Tour’s prestigious Turkish Airlines Open in 2013, 14 and 15, the Montgomerie MAXX Royal features some very special holes that have certainly impressed both professionals and amateurs alike. Made up, unusually, of six par-3s, six-par-4s and six par-5s, the course is immaculate, challenging and very playable with myriad water hazards and expanses of sandy wasteland to negotiate.
The original Belek course, and still the standard by which all others are judged. The National is a wonderfully quiet and tranquil place, with the course winding through a stunning forest of eucalyptus and pine trees. It’s not easy, with narrow fairways and loads of water to be avoided, but it’s a wonderful challenge that is best capped by a lovely lunch on the terrace overlooking the 18th.
It might be the younger of two excellent courses at Antalya, but when it comes to the severity of challenge the PGA Sultan is undoubtedly the senior partner. It also has a genuine knee-knocker of an opening tee shot - right up there with Machrihanish - with water in front of the tee, trees on the left side of the fairway and water all down the right.
The Pasha is shorter and a little more forgiving than its bigger brother, but as they say at Antalya, “it is no walk in to the woods”. Both courses are great fun to play, with a wonderful variety of holes, difficult bunkering position and a natural feel throughout.