Here's a write-up of my recent golfing holidays in Turkey – my favourite golf destination. It's a day-by-day suggested itinerary...but I've included a summary of the trip and my recommendations at the end.
Getting to the Airport
We were up bright and breezy this morning, super excited about a week away filled with sun, sea, and a bit of R&R, but more importantly, some well-deserved golf in Turkey.
Jumping in a taxi with rain dripping down the windows made me smile at the thought of my golfing buddies, due to play in the weekly swindle this morning, freezing on the first tee.
It was an early start as the flights via Turkish Airlines departed at 11:20 from London Gatwick. I have taken Turkish Airlines a few times now and would always choose to do so, given a choice.
I dropped off my clubs and hold luggage through security, then on to a quick pint and breakfast in the Weatherspoons. So now we are on holiday!
Turkish Airlines are great; boarding the plane and finding my seat was a doddle. Sitting back and relaxing in a comfortable, oversized leather bucket seat makes the journey much more comfortable. I am not particularly tall, but the seats are spacious and comfortable. The airfare includes golf bag carriage, hold luggage, hand luggage, and all inflight meals and drinks. Perfect! However, my choice of the movie may have been questionable... The greatest showman!
Before I knew it, we were on the descent and flying over the Taurus Mountains heading for Antalya Airport.
Getting a visa and passport at the ready security and through to baggage pick up is not the quickest at Antalya airport, but who cares? I'm on holiday now!
We jumped into our transfer, and our friendly driver had lots of golf stories to tell, which passed the time nicely. It is 19:00 now, and I am looking forward to dinner.
Our first two nights' stay was at the Sueno Deluxe Hotel.
We Like Sueno Deluxe a lot, as it sits in the middle bracket price-wise and still manages to provide all of the luxury and class of most hotels in the higher price range.
I like about Sueno Deluxe is the proximity to both the Sueno Golf courses. You walk over to Sueno Hotels Golf, where the clubhouse is based, and check in.
The benefits of staying in the Sueno Deluxe are available food and drink options. Eating buffet food three times a day can be hard work. However, having five a la carte options to book into really does break things up. The bars are lively in peak seasons, and the nightclub is always a good giggle.
I always use the spa, and it is luxurious. After a game of golf, the best way to relax is the Turkish Haman, followed by a jacuzzi, steam, and sauna. They do the trick.
Our Rating - 4.4/5
Sueno Pines is an excellent golf course with up and down undulations, making second shots more challenging. However, the greens are rapid and not very flat either, which presented an excellent test of golf for us. Buggies are not essential in Belek; however, I would almost certainly recommend them to keep up with the pace of play.
The par 5's were excellent. Length and precision off of the tee was the only way to score well on them. The par 3's almost all have water to avoid, and the mixture of holes are attractive and provide lots of risk and reward opportunities.
Golf in Turkey is not complete without a round on Sueno Pines.
The Regnum was the hotel I was looking forward to. When booking a golf trip to Belek, you base your group in one hotel for the duration of the trip, however, I wanted to experience as many of the hotels as possible. I can then give clients honest and expert advice when planning their golf trips in Turkey. I have now stayed in every golf hotel in Belek; the Regnum Carya is always my favourite.
The Regnum Carya Golf Resort is at the top end of most budgets and expectations are obviously and rightly so very high every time I stay here. As usual, when checking in, we were upgraded to the Golf Villas just in front of the hotel, which works so well for golf groups.
The villas are luxurious; when you walk in, you are encouraged to try all of the room fragrances on offer. The maid service can plug them into a very fancy device and ensure that your room always smells amazing, a little touch, but it just shows you the level of detail the hotel goes to.
The villas have separate dressing rooms, very luxurious bathrooms with Bvlgari toiletries. The TV is the mirror…does not work very well, and I certainly would not have it in my home, but how much TV do you watch when away on holiday? Still pretty cool though, and a bit James Bond.
When you walk out to your private balcony, you can dip your feet into the swim-up pool which runs the entire length of the villas.
Of an evening, the hotel has many bar and restaurant options as well as a nightclub, games room, sports bar, cigar lounge and an Irish pub to get a pint of Guinness.
The hotel would not feel out of place in Las Vegas and has two of the best golf courses in Belek to boot.
Our Rating - 4/5
We had 36 holes of golf to play today, and I was so thankful for yesterdays Golf Massage I purchased in Sueno Deluxe.
Round one was on National Golf Course, Home to the LET Turkish Open. National is excellent, it is. National is the oldest course in Belek and that bit more mature than its neighbours. The course boasts 27-holes of Championship Golf, and for me the loops of Irmak and Tuna 1- 18 make the best round, Ada 19-27 is a great loop of 9 holes but has lots more water to navigate around and I prefer the tight tree-lined 1 -18.
The course requires you to play all varieties of golf shots and my shot of the week for me personally was a high fading hybrid into the 5th green which gave me 5-footer for Birdie (I missed)
The greens are always so immaculate at National and I do love playing here.
The clubhouse is so old school and a perfect place to grab a Turkish Tea and a bite to eat post-round.
Our Rating - 4.8/5
I have never been the biggest fan of floodlit golf. As someone with a very high ball flight, I struggle once the ball has gone above the floodlights. That said, there is something quite spectacular about seeing Carya under the lights. My group think it's fantastic to play at night, and I enjoy Carya as a golf course, so we all had a perfect time.
If you are looking to play golf in Turkey, night golf is worth considering as it gives you a full day to enjoy the hotels.
We opted for a Texas Scramble for the evening round to mix things up.
Carya has hosted the European Tour for a few years; the course is set up for championship golf, but in my opinion, it is not overly long and is a very fair test for us amateurs. So I like that on a golf course.
There is no doubt about it. Carya is a phenomenal golf course, with every blade of grass immaculately manicured and the layout quirky and fun to play. I could honestly not see anyone playing golf here and not having the best times.
Coming down the 18th, we found ourselves in somewhat unchartered territory sitting on 12 under par (Not bad for a group of ageing once was golfers). We toasted our great result with a couple of EFES beers in the beautiful clubhouse and made our way back for a late bite in the hotel.
It is hard to resist temptation when booking a golf trip to play every day, and with so many great courses within 10 minutes, I can sort of understand that. However, if I could give one tip to people travelling to Belek for a golf trip, it would be to take time to enjoy all of the hotel facilities and enjoy some relaxation.
We made our way over to the Titanic Deluxe, where we remained for the duration of our trip.
The Titanic Deluxe is a large hotel with every facility imaginable within its grounds. After a walk around the hotel and visiting a few available room typologies, I dumped my luggage in the room and decided it was a beach day for me today.
The Titanic is slightly different from other hotels in the area, as it does not provide direct beach access; however, the journey to the beach is incredible. The golf buggy tram drives you up to the river (an integral part of the Titanic Golf Course design) and drops you off by a quaint riverboat that ferries you five minutes downriver to the beach. This frequent service runs every 15 minutes.
A day at the beach does break up any golf trip. Although I know for a number of you larger groups out there, the golf and the banter in the bar is paramount, a day at the beach makes this a holiday as well. For me, the sandy beach of Belek and the fantastic warm Mediterranean Sea are just bliss.
Our Rating - 4.2/5
Back to Golf…A later tee-time today at 11:00 am was a nice lie-in after a relaxing day. I feel fresh and ready to unleash my wild hooks and erratic chips on 18 of the 27 holes of Titanic Golf Club.
Our allocation was the River and the Mediterranean (Again 1-18). All three loops at Titanic are very different in appearance and feel. The Forest 9 holes are tighter and more strategically challenging than the River 9, which is a bit more open and friendly and leads out towards, well, you guessed it, the River.
The Mediterranean is probably my favourite 9, which has a little more link feel without playing like a links course. (If that makes sense)
Titanic is a scoreable golf course, excellent for a range of handicap abilities. Still a challenge for good single-figure golfers, but fair enough that higher handicapped players can also score well.
As expected, the course was in excellent condition, a standard in Belek. All of the courses are kept amazingly well.
Although frustrating, the Turkish close each golf course in Belek once in the summer months (July/August) and again (end of September/early October) for a couple of weeks for course maintenance and over-seeding. Although the September and October dates frustrate me as most of my clients want a trip then, I understand why when I see the courses in such excellent condition. They are all closed for a couple of weeks, which doesn't happen in most European countries, so you can play on perfect greens and tee boxes. Therefore, you will only ever see the courses in the best condition.
This, as well as the fantastic all-inclusive, is why so many of my clients return to Belek yearly.
Our Rating - 4.8/5
This morning is a very early start as we have to get our transfer to take 30 minutes up the coastline to the beautiful Pete Dye Designed Lykia Links. The sun is only rising, and we are warming up our creaky backs and shoulders, ready to play our last round of the trip. But unfortunately, we have golf addiction problems.
For those who have not played at Lykia, it differs from every other golf course in Belek. A true links design and playing like a proper links course, putts from fairways, low stingers, and lots of bumps and runs are needed here.
I love links golf, and this place always pleases me. Please note, though, that the course is long, and you need to control your shot types here. When I play Lykia, I know I will not be smug in the clubhouse with a beer post-round sitting on 38 points. I am well aware that I will be beaten up and challenged in every shot, but I am prepared for it, and I know I have managed to go toe to toe with this beast of a course and give it a good battle.
As always, the course was great, the ball does travel further here due to the layout, and the greens are just so quick, but everybody in our group had a great morning's golf.
Day 7: Home Time
Another memorable trip to Belek. The golf in Turkey was just as expected, just absolutely top draw. The hotels offered incredible service, premium brands, excellent food, and a pleasant atmosphere.
The talk between the group was simple, let's get home and pop down our deposits for next year.