Travel Mail: Turkey's Ace in the Hole

Article excerpt

TURKEY has become a popular holiday venue for many Brits who enjoy the sun, sea and a generous helping of history. But in the past it never rated too highly with golfers planning their annual flights to foreign fairways.

It's a reasonable bet that many golf club members are unaware that golf courses exist there, but all that could soon change. On the Mediterranean south coast of Turkey, the new resort of Belek now boasts four quality courses to delight golfers of any handicap.

The Russians and Germans are well aware of it, so now the friendly Turks have set about attracting more people from the UK, and hope to provide some serious competition for Spain and the Portuguese Algarve. I think they will.

When I flew to Turkey it was my first visit to the country, and I came away greatly impressed with the golf courses, the hospitality and the magnificent hotels spread along the so-called Turkish Riviera.

Don't expect to find immature courses with hastily planted saplings and sparse facilities. On the contrary, you will discover lush fairways, impressive greens, many attractive water hazards and superb clubhouses with welcoming bars and restaurants.

Only 30 minutes from the historic city of Antalya, Belek has become a golfing oasis with the beautifully manicured courses of Nobilis, the National, Tat Beach and Gloria.

All are within easy reach of a string of top quality hotels, so there is plenty of choice with a variety of challenges, water hazards cleverly used to test the skill of players.

So it's easy to understand former Ryder Cup star Malcolm Gregson, now a member of the European Senior Tour, when he says: 'The area must currently be one of golf's best kept secrets.'

The National Golf Club hosted the PGA European Turkish Seniors Open in 1996 and 1997. The attractive course, designed by Irishman David Feherty, is set amongst mature trees with four natural water features.

The 18th is an attractive par-4 with a tricky shot to the green over a lake cutting into the fairway, overlooked by a majestic clubhouse.

Visually attractive

The club also has a 1,547-metre nine-hole academy course. Just the place to loosen up for the big one!

Tat Beach International Golf Club, only a mile from the National, has 27 holes, with the second nine running alongside the sea. …