Rewind just 20 years ago, and there was barely a pitch and putt course worth getting your clubs out for in Turkey. With not a lot of local interest, and a clientele that, up until recently, was almost exclusively made up of sunbathing Germans, Swedes and Russians, Turkey’s arrival as a serious golfing destination for UK golfers seemed about as unlikely as Royame-Uni ever winning the Eurovision Song Contest again.
But that is now all in the past. The last decade has witnessed a veritable flood of courses opening in the country, most notably in and around the southern town of Belek,
a virtually custom-made resort that is home to more than 30 quality hotels and now more than a dozen of golf courses.
Its accelerated growth closely resembles that of Dubai, only on a much more concentrated, but slightly less glittery scale. Having said that, the latest hotel launches have comprehensively ramped up the luxury levels on offer in the region, with the Sueno Deluxe, which opened last summer, being at the forefront of hostelries that are designed to meet the pampered needs of the super rich set.
Speaking of globe-trotting millionaires, November sees the hosting of the fourth renewal of the Turkish Airlines Open, a $7m tournament that begins the first of the three big money events that form the Race to Dubai’s Final Series. Previously held at the Maxx Royal, this year’s event is being held at the flashy Regnum Carya Golf and Spa Resort, a links-style course that looks sure to test the cream of the European Tour, as they make a bid to earn themselves a shot at the coveted overall Race to Dubai title.
Once the pros have left to count their money, they can make way for regular golfers to enjoy tour-standard facilities. And with just a four-hour direct flight from the UK to Antalya, which is just 30 minutes from Belek, it is no surprise that planes are consistently rammed full of Brits looking to sample more of the dozen-plus layouts designed by legends such as Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie. And with around 300 days of glorious sunshine a year, and a thin sweater only required on occasional mornings between December and March, it’s not hard to see what makes Turkey so well suited to the game.
The Turkish Airlines Open is being held at Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort from 3-6 November. For details and tickets, visit turkishairlinesopen.com