Teeing off: golf tourism rebounds in Turkey
Antalya’s about to break a new record in sports tourism, with officials expecting 620,000 rounds of golf to be played before the year end.
No one expected that 2013’s figures of 600,000 games played would turn out to be a peak. Along with the rest of Turkish tourism, the country’s golf industry took a hit in 2015 and 2016, when interest in sporting holidays took a dive. However, this year’s teeing up to be a good one. Turkish Golf Federation chair Ahmet Agaoglu thinks that this year, 620,000 golf games will be played - a jump on 2013, the year Tiger Woods played famously shot a golf ball from Europe to Asia, across the Bosphorus Bridge.
Speaking from Turkey’s golf capital Belek, Agaoglu said the town’s hotels will be “100 percent full”. Last year Belek missed its chance to rebound after British golfer Rory McIlroy successfully campaigned to have a European Tour tournament cancelled, a move that impacted not only the numbers of golf tourists visiting but the local area, too.
"Last year, Sky News reported in the UK that Turkey is not safe, so do not go there, while Sky Sports and other channels portrayed Antalya as a paradise on earth. Due to this, we were down to 400,000 rounds last year." This year, the tournament went ahead, which Agaoglu said was great publicity for the industry. “The British also realised that [the news] was not based on truth, which led to serious demand this year."
Next May, the Challenge Tour tournament will be held in Samsun in May, another coup for the rebounding industry, as well as tourism: with 1.5 billion people watching, interest in the Black Sea region of Turkey will increase. Interest in Turkish golf property is also set to increase as international players discover the lower cost and quality courses on offer in Turkey.
Because of summer’s punishing heat, golf is an off-season sport in Turkey, played between March to April, and October to November. Golfers tend to stay for four days on average, spending around $1000 per person on golf games, hotels and shopping.
Five of Turkey’s best golf courses
- Carya Golf Club: This scenic course draws its inspiration from the heathland layouts of the Surrey/Berkshire sandbelt, and is the brainchild of golfing champion Peter Thomson.
- Faldo King at Cornelia Golf Club: Designed by Sir Nick Faldo, the three loops of nine holes wanders through pine forests and along sandy ridges, and features lakes and difficult doglegs, making this course challenging and rewarding.
- Lykia Links Golf Club: with its stunning location on the edge of the Mediterranean, golfers are in for an unforgettable game - but don’t get distracted, there are a number of bunkers and tricky contours to navigate.
- Pines Course at Sueno Golf Club: Sueno is one of Turkey’s most popular clubs. The Pines course plays through landscapes of sand and pine, and has a number of water hazards thrown in, just to add a little complexity to your game. Mongomerie MAXX Royal: with enough challenge to impress amateurs and professionals alike, it’s little wonder this fantastic course was the venue for the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open for three years running.