Playing Golf in Turkey : Turkey is lucky to be home to some of the best landscapes and climates in the world. In recent years, they’ve used those advantageous and efforts have been made to turn Turkey into one of the world’s great golf havens, and now the country features some of the most beautiful, most varied, most state-of-the-art courses anywhere in the world, with Turkey’s stunning seascape as a backdrop.
Golf in Turkey was once a best kept secret, but this beautiful country is now one of the most popular golfing destinations in Europe thanks to its combination of magnificent championship golf courses and luxury five stars all-inclusive resorts.
The excellent climate is an attraction, with the added benefits of high standards of service and accommodation, good value for money, and of course, a fantastic range of international standard golf courses. So whether you prefer the excitement of city life or a Mediterranean backdrop to your game of golf, you will find the ideal location in Turkey.
Istanbul and Antalya form the height of Turkish tourism and as a result they “drive” the golf courses as well. But there are courses located all over the country and the sport is booming, with luminaries like Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia coming over to play in international tournaments in recent years.
Each course is different, and a favorite golf course is as much personal preference as it is objective fact. So which of Turkey’s dozens of courses is right for you?
The Best Spots To Play Golf In Turkey
Turkey is a perfect destination of the world for playing golf with its world class courses, excellent climate and fantastic service. Turkey means happiness, birdie time all year round. Find out all you need to know about playing golf in Turkey. A golf journey to Turkey is the perfect opportunity to see some of the world’s most prestigious golf courses.
Golf in Belek Antalya
Did you know that in 2008 the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) rated Turkey the best golfing destination in Europe? It’s true, and it’s largely because of the 27 golf courses and facilities located in Belek, Antalya. Since then, courses in Belek have been used for many important golf tournaments, including along the European Tour, the World Corporate Golf Challenge and the now critical Turkish Airlines Golf Open, which is held every year. In 2018 alone, there were 108 national and international golf tournaments.
Belek is the prime location for golf holidays in Turkey. Situated on the Mediterranean coast, Belek is a tourist resort with plenty to see and do. Belek itself has much to occupy the visitor, with its luxury five-star hotels, beaches, shopping and a weekly bazaar. All in all, the sheer number and variety of links in Belek means that it’s impossible to have a disappointing golf holiday, and the fact that the courses are all located in Antalya, one of the world’s most beautiful locations, is simply a bonus!
Many of the golf courses in Antalya are associated with particular hotels, allowing for all-inclusive golfing holidays right in front of the seafront, with many other facilities available for family members who either don’t enjoy golf or are perhaps a little too young to start. Each of the courses in Belek have been designed differently to appeal to a different style of golfer. There are some that resemble classic European courses, some that are more avant-garde, and ones that focus on difficulty or aesthetics. All have been designed within the past 20 years using state-of-the-art design technology, which helps consider wind variations that can make golfing such a hassle on other courses.
Carya Golf Club
Thomson Perrett & Lobb, the golf course architecture company founded by five-time Open Champion and Australian golf legend Peter Thomson, designed the course at Carya Golf Club. Thomson was enthused by the new creation located in Turkey’s Belek golf belt and prior to the course opening in 2008 he commented: “This is an exceptional piece of land on which to build a golf course, reminiscent of the famous heathland courses near London that I rate among the world’s best and which I was fortunate to enjoy much success on in my playing days. I am very excited about the prospect of creating a classic, traditional-style course in Turkey.” Some might call it a tall order to create such a layout in a location totally alien to the originals found at the likes of Sunningdale and Swinley but somehow – thanks mainly to a nursery where almost a million heather plants were grown – Thomson Perrett & Lobb have actually managed to pull off a Berkshire golf experience with a Mediterranean twist here at Carya. Fairways run across a sand ridge through stands of pine and eucalyptus trees on a 260-acre property that’s unlike any of the other new golf facilities in the area. Playing to a par of 72, the course features the longest hole in Turkey – the 621-yard 6th, appropriately named “Long” – and it may just be that Carya will, in the future, be seen as the golf development that saw the golfing area of Belek come of age. Perhaps not so in keeping with Berkshire is the floodlighting that illuminates the last nine holes at Carya, but it does mean that golfers can enjoy playing golf under the Mediterranean stars until late at night. In 2009, the European Challenge Tour signed a three-year agreement with the club, sanctioned by the Turkish Golf Federation, to hold an annual event called the Turkish Challenge, which helped to further promote the region as a prime golfing destination. The tournament ante was upped when Carya hosted the fourth staging of the Turkish Airlines Open in November 2016 – the event was previously held at The Montgomerie Maxx Royal Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen claimed the title, winning the tournament by three shots from his nearest rivals. The Dane commented as follows on the extraordinary 16th tee location which was brought into play for the event: “The tee on 16, sitting on top of a villa above a swimming pool, is quite spectacular and provides a good view! You have the par five 15th before it, which provides a good eagle chance, then you can see the villa from the green and where you’re going to tee off next. It’s pretty cool – and if it all goes wrong then you can throw your club in the pool!” Justin Rose then won the 2017 event (his tenth European Tour title) by one stroke from South African Dylan Frittelli and Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts. Rose birdied the 72nd hole to secure back-to-back wins on the European Tour, having shot a final round score of 67 to claim first prize at the WGCHSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai the week before. For the first time in his career, Rose successfully defended a title at the 2018 Turkish Airlines Open.
Gloria Golf Club
The second ‘championship’ course at the luxurious Gloria Resort is called the New and, like the Old course, was also designed by Frenchman Michel Gayon. Opened in late 2005, this undulating tree-lined track is challenging yet fair and there are many unforgettable holes. The par five 2nd has a wonderful undulating fairway and the 3rd is a great short hole, named ‘The Quarry’ where the tee shot is played over rocks to a green that is a lot wider than it is long. An average length par five comes at the end of the front nine, but with a lake all the way down the right of the fairway, the name ‘Watery Grave’ says it all. There is belief that all golf courses have an obligation to have a cracking 17th hole (St Andrews, Wentworth, Sawgrass etc.) and the Gloria’s 17th on the New course is actually not dissimilar to the famous Sawgrass hole with its own island green, a little wind and a great trade in lake balls around the green. The water theme continues at the last hole and is similar to the 9th, where the same lake comes into play, this time down the left of the entire hole, providing a dramatic end that can ruin scorecards and turn match play games around. At the turn of the new millennium, the Old course at the Gloria Resort hosted three PGA European Seniors Tour Turkish Opens but, when the event returned to Turkey in 2007 after a six-year absence, it was the New course that played host. This underlines the depth and quality of the Gloria Resort with both the Old and New courses capable of wearing the ‘big event’ tag. With a further nine holes – named the Gloria Verde – set around another big lake in the midst of a pine forest and off-course facilities as good as anywhere in Europe, the Gloria Resort is high quality through and through.
There are plenty of Dave Thomas-designed courses to be found all over the UK and on the continent of Europe. There are more than twenty in Spain, Germany and France. The 18-hole layout at Robinson Club Nobilis was his first venture into eastern Europe and it opened for play in 1998, at the start of the Turkish golfing boom. Turkey has since doubled the number of tourists who visit annually to over twenty million and a large proportion of them head for the Mediterranean resort of Belek, a half an hour’s drive away from Antalya’s international airport. The area now boasts ten top quality, pay-and-play, golf courses that attempt to satisfy the demands of visitors. Robinson is a holiday company with resorts catering specifically for golfers in Austria, Germany (plus other Mediterranean locations such as Majorca, Greece and Egypt) and here in Turkey, where they have a 404-bed hotel attached to their 18-hole Nobilis course. The par 72, 6,666-yard parkland course is routed over a sandy coastal landscape that fronts onto a eucalyptus and pine forest at the foot of the Taurus Mountains. Fairways may be wide and greens on the large side but bunkers, trees and lakes are strategically placed to protect par for the course. The par threes are attractive holes on the Nobilis, particularly those on the 9th and 16th where tee shots have a substantial expanse of water to carry in order to reach the green.
Golf in İstanbul
Turkey’s first golf courses were located in Istanbul, one in the popular new development of Göktürk in the district of Eyüpsultan, one in the relatively new developments of Ataşehir, and one in Silivri. Playing Golf in Turkey Istanbul has its own golf clubs, and the courses have all been designed to USGA standards. So if you’re visiting Istanbul and want to take a break out on the links, then you’ve plenty of opportunities to take the day and play in one of the world’s greatest cities!
Kuşadası and Bodrum Area for Golf
Kuşadası and Bodrum are located along the Aegean coast about 2 hours apart from one another and represent an incredibly picturesque setting for a golf course. Here you’ll find 3 different courses, all relatively new and internationally designed. The courses tend to be comparatively challenging. Due to the temperate climate, golf can be played almost year-round along the coast.
Kusadasi International Golf Club
Kusadasi International Golf Club is located between the small town of Söke and the resort town of Kuşadası on the Aegean coast, which is a port of call for luxury cruise liners during the summer season. It’s the first course in Turkey to be part of a residential development – those in the popular Belek region are constructed on leased land from the government so they were unable to include freehold property. Designed by Spanish architect José Canales, the Kusadasi course overlooks the Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park and the nearby Greek island of Samos, which is separated from the Turkish mainland by the narrow Mycale Strait. Stretching to 6,322 metres from the back tees, the 18-hole course is set out on hilly terrain, with around 130 metres in elevation change across the property so the views of the surrounding mountain ranges and the Aegean Sea vistas are simply stunning. Holes have been cut through small plantations of olive and carob trees, with the fairways routed around the contours of two adjacent ridges. A couple of lakes also come into play, between the 1st and the 9th fairways and to the left of the 4th. Highlight holes include the 481-metre 4th (” Road Hole”), which runs alongside the entrance road to the property, and the 421-metre 14th (“Make Sure”), where the fairway doglegs slightly left to the green at this tough uphill par four.
Regnum Bodrum Golf Club
The Regnum Golf and Country Club Bodrum, the first 18-hole golf facility in the port city, opened for play in 2018. It was the second collaboration between developer Fikret Öztürk, who also operates the 9-hole Bodrum Golf and Tennis Club, and architect Tim Lobb. Their first project, Carya Golf Club, is widely regarded as one of the best in the country. The par 71 layout measures 6,016 metres from the back tees, occupying a rather hilly property, with lightly bunkered fairways laid out around several man-made lakes and a working olive grove. Indeed, the olive oil from the estate is marketed as a house product by Regnum. According to the R&A’s Golf Around the World Report 2019, “The course sits on an old olive grove, at an elevation of 1,640 feet, and offers 100 feet of pitch across its rolling terrain – enough for dramatic long views of the surrounding valleys and hills. The site’s 1,450 acres offers plenty of room for residential development, with future plans for up to 275 villas.”
Samsun – Black Sea – Golf
Samsun features the only USGA-certified courses in the Black Sea Region of Turkey. The courses are designed to be less challenging that those of Antalya so that golfers of all ages and abilities can enjoy them. The weather is a little cooler and the feel is totally different up along the Black Sea, giving more of the feel of, say, the great courses of Scotland compared with the sunny beauty of Antalya.
Turkish Airlines Open
With a combined prize fund of $7 million, Turkish Airlines Open is one of the most exciting golf tournaments of the European Tour calendar. It is also one of the widest reaching international golf tournaments in the world. Turkish Airlines Open is one of the most important golf tournaments in Europe, played annually in Turkey. The tournament has become a key part of the European Tour schedule since its inception in 2013 thanks to the ambitious vision of the Turkish Golf Federation and Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines Open golf tournament provides a pivotal role in the Final Series, offers the chance to see the some of the biggest names in golf. The fact that the Turkish Airlines Open is so ideally located close to top class golf courses, resorts and hotels, means it is an excellent, and convenient addition to a golf holiday in Turkey.