With 21 clubs and more than 4,000 fans, Turkey can be considered a golf destination in constant growth like a rocket on a steady course to the stars. Golf was played in Turkey for the first time in the 19th century, but it took a long time to achieve sustained development, as it has actually happened in the last 30 years.
The first golf club in Turkey was established in 1895, formerly called Constantinapole Golf club, but it is known as Istanbul Golf Club. The club was founded by the British and Americans and represented the quintessential meeting place for ex-pats and minorities for years. Over time it became the place of choice for ambassadors, military commanders, executives and foreign correspondents. Many of the decisions made to take Turkey to where it stands today took place here.
New golf courses were built in the early 1990s. First, the Klassis Golf Club in Silivri, in Istanbul, followed by Kemer Golf & Country Golf Club in Göktürk, also in Istanbul. Meanwhile, the Belek-Antalya courses began to be built after 1994. The important thing to know is that there are currently 15 golf courses in the Belek area, which in 2008 was recognized as the Best Golf Destination in Europe by IAGTO.
The Turkish Golf Federation was formed in 1996. Since then, it has been working with the clear objective of developing golf in Turkey, based on intensive programs and on holding national and international competitions.
The Turkish Airlines Open is the most important event in the country and belongs to the annual calendar of the European Tour. It has been played in Turkey since 2013, and on its first two editions, it was the penultimate event of the European Tour Final Series.
Frenchman Victor Dubuisson won the first edition in 2013, beating Briton Jamie Donaldson by two strokes. He won the contest again in 2015, tied on top with Englishman Justin Rose (2017 and 2018). Prestigious winners of this tournament are the North American Brooks Koepka (2014), Thorbjørn Olesen (2016) and English Tyrrel Hatton (2019). In 2020 the tournament was not played due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Known as a region where multiple civilizations meet and mix, Turkey attracts tourists from all over the world who want to take a trip back in time. The whole country is a blend between the exotic and the traditional, the perfect link between East and West.
Both large and smaller Turkish cities have lovely walks. The gateway is Istanbul, formerly called Constantinople and the capital of the Roman Empire. This city has a fascinating history which is divided into two parts: one European and one Asian. It is worth noting that in 2010 it was recognized as the European capital of culture. Without a doubt, it is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.
Cornelia Golf Club comprises 27 holes nestled in Belek, Antalya, designed by the English Nick Faldo, winner of the Augusta Masters three times and the Open Championship also three times. This club offers an exceptional combination and is considered one of the best in the world. The idyllic landscapes are present in each of the holes, which meander through the place’s forests. Many blind shots and gaps are the main challenges for those who decide to play in this demanding but accessible field.
The combination of the holes allows you to play The King Course (par 72, 6970 yards), The Queen Course (par 72, 7011 yards) and The Prince Course (par 72, 6916 yards). As Faldo says: “it is an exceptional land, with a sandy and wonderfully natural site, covered with pine trees.” The Englishman made sure that the starting tees were elevated, allowing exceptional views of the entire field. It should be noted that the club has excellent facilities and the presence of The Leadbetter Golf Academy.
Gloria Golf Club is located in the heart of Belek, Antalya, and is the only golf club in Turkey with 45 holes. It is an internationally renowned resort visited by golf fans from all over the world. The New Course (par 72, 7133) is definitely one of the most popular. It held competitions from the European Senior Tour and the European Challenge Tour, including an edition of the Amateur World Championship. The design belonged to Michel Gayon and was inaugurated in 2005. The course is nestled in a local pine forest, with rolling fairways and challenging greens, all with bermuda grass. The toughest hole is the 4, a challenging par 5 where many players walk towards the 5th, adding more shots to their card than expected.
The Old Course (par 72, 7140 yards) was inaugurated in 1997. The design also belongs to Michel Gayon, who created fairways surrounded by trees from which the Taurus mountain range can be clearly observed. This course hosted more than 20 international championships for professionals and amateurs, and one of the main characteristics are its water hazards, placed around the most critical holes. Finally, the complex has a 9-hole course called Verde Course. It is considered one of the best nine-hole courses in all of Europe.
Montgomerie Maxx Royal is one of the best golf resorts in Turkey and Europe. It is located in Belek and has already hosted the Turkish Airlines Open of the European Tour three times. The design (par 72, 7132) belongs to Scotsman Colin Montgomerie. Its elevated clubhouse is famous for the fantastic view of the field, especially from the tower located 30 meters above the site. The course was inaugurated in 2008 on a 104-hectare site, of which 7 were destined for waste bunkers. It is worth noting that the complex has an exceptional practice area, with a 750sqm chipping green, among other characteristics.