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Turkey Golf Trip 2024

Belek in the Spring has to be one of the best golf destinations for European golfers. With so many good golf courses in the area, great value all-inclusive hotels and generally warm and consistent weather, it's easy to see why it's such a popular choice. This was my second trip to the area and I'm sure it won't be my last.

Eight of us set out from Glasgow on a Friday afternoon for the roughly 4h 30min flight to Antalya. We flew with Corendon Airlines, who have very convenient flight times (both departure and arrival). The luggage allowance was 23kg for a hold bag, 20kg for your golf bag and 8kg for a carry-on bag. Unless you are Imelda Marcos taking multiple pairs of shoes or are planning 3 outfit changes per day, you should have plenty of room with that allowance. I've never seen so many golf bags being loaded onto a plane. After arriving in Antalya, it was a short (20 min) transfer to our hotel, the excellent Titanic Deluxe Golf in Belek (big clue in the name there!).

Titanic Deluxe Golf with Olympos and Aspendos courses in the background

One thing you need to be aware of when you come to a hotel like this in the shoulder season is that there will be a LOT of other golf groups there too. The quality of the courses and the value for money attract a lot of groups looking to get some warm-weather golf before the season kicks off at home. Unfortunately, some larger groups can be quite rowdy and blur the line between a golf holiday with a few drinks and a drinking holiday with some golf. If you want to avoid the big groups, you may be better off looking at the hotels that don't have golf courses attached, as they tend to attract a more family market.

The Courses

This year we played the two courses associated with the hotel, the Olympos and the Aspendos, which were both all-inclusive days with on-course refreshments and post-round food. We returned to the Sultan course (having been rained off last year) and we also returned to the two Turkish Open host courses, the Montgomerie (an all-inclusive, premium addition) and the Carya.

These are all excellent courses and I would not put readers off playing any of them. Ranking them in my order of enjoyment would be Carya, Aspendos and Sultan equal, Olympos then Montgomerie. Picking the right tee options will make a big difference to your enjoyment of the rounds so think carefully about what ones you play from, especially at Montgomerie and Carya which can be monsters from the back boxes.

All courses have warm-up areas with driving range and practice greens. Balls are not included though so allow €4-6 for them and be warned, they are generally old and of poor quality. The balls at Montgomerie were disgraceful, despite being the most expensive. I'd have thought there must be several ball companies who would be happy to sponsor these facilities given how many golfers come through each year. Trolley hire was around €8 and buggy hire is around €60 (which is fine for two sharing). On reflection, I don't recall any courses offering caddy services (not that we were looking to take a caddy, but others might want to).

Round 1: Olympos

Well, it appeared that we brought the Scottish weather with us for the first round. While it was pleasantly warm, strong 30-40mph winds greeted us on the first tee and the sky was an ominous grey/black. It was such a shame, as this is a lovely-looking links-style course and the only one we played so close to the water.

Keeping a hat on was a bit of a challenge and it wasn't so much sunburn that was a concern this morning, more sandblasting of bare Scottish legs! Shortly after that video was recorded, we were taken off the course due to a thunderstorm. We had only managed to complete 5 holes but were able to negotiate a return to the course on our day off to play the back 9. We couldn't have had a more different morning. It was an early (7am) tee time, but it's only a buggy ride from the hotel and it was a great way to start the day.

It's not a particularly long course but it's tight, with lots of trees and water to navigate. I would definitely like to play the front 9 again in better weather to enjoy the coastal location.

Round 2: Carya

This is a real cracker of a course and always a joy to play. A host course for the Turkish Open, you need to choose your tee box carefully, as it can be a bit of a monster if you go too far back. I really enjoyed playing here last year and it was great to be back. The facilities are excellent, with one of the largest putting greens I've ever seen. While the fairways are fairly generous, some holes can be visually intimidating with trees lining one side and water waiting on the other. If you don't mind the risk of getting caught, then try to get onto the 16th tee that's on a villa roof and take a look at the hole from there.

This was not an all-inclusive course, so expect to pay extra if you want anything other than water. There is a halfway house and there should also be a refreshment cart driving around (although we didn't see that very often this time).

Round 3: Sultan

Returning to our "rained off" round from last year, I thought this course was a real surprise and a pleasure to play. The other course here is called Pasha and, while shorter, is also a testing course. One word of warning when playing Sultan, the crows like to pinch your balls! I assume they think they are eggs, so I'd recommend using coloured balls instead as they never seemed to go for the yellow ones.

There is a lot of construction work going on around the course. It appears that many of the hotels in the area are building villa complexes around their hotels. The ones under construction here look very nice, as do those around Carya and Aspendos.

Round 4: Montgomerie Maxx

This is the second of the Turkish Open host courses and ranks highly on most "must-play" lists. It reminded me of classic English heathland courses, but with added Turtles! Visually the course is stunning and has some very attractive holes.

Seriously - €6 for these!

We had such a good experience here last year, it was always going to be difficult to surpass it this year. Unfortunately, it fell quite short of expectations. This is a long and demanding course and is also very busy. The team were overwhelmed with demand for buggies, which meant two of our group had a frustrating wait for them to come free and then a frantic rush to make their tee time. Those of us who had time to go to the practice range were disappointed to find such poor quality balls given the €6 charge. Overall it felt like they were taking full advantage of their popularity.

While the course was generally in good condition, it didn't feel as good as the previous year. There is a significant premium on accuracy off the tee here as the first cut of rough is thick and penal and you don't want to be in the waste areas either (watch out for sand flies and other biting insects in there too - take some repellant). The greens are large and they were fast and often intimidating. Of all the greens we played this week I would say these were probably in the worst condition and just looked a bit over-played.

Course management is very important here, so if you can download a course guide ahead of time, I would recommend it. There are a lot of trees waiting to catch you off the tee and many greens are also guarded by trees too. All to often, you could hit what you thought was a good drive only to find a tree blocking your route to the green.

I don't want to sound overly negative about the Montgomerie as there are some great holes here too and the round was still very enjoyable. I just enjoyed some of the other courses we played more. Opinions are personal and others in the group didn't enjoy Carya, whereas I really liked it.

Round 5: Aspendos

Our final round was on the Aspendos and I thought it was a real treat. While it's not a particularly long course, it is quite tactical and I really enjoyed it. This is the course we could see from our hotel rooms and it appears to have a 9-hole loop that can be played under floodlights too. Some of the guys on the trip struggled to get the Olympos and Aspendos on their GPS devices as they used to be a 9-hole and 18-hole layout that has recently been extended to two 18-hole courses. You can spot the less mature holes as you progress around the course.

There are plenty of tree-lined fairways again and while there is water to contend with too, it is generally less intimidating than some of the other courses we played. It presents a good balance of risk and reward and for the bigger hitters, the par 5 holes are reachable in two and there are a couple of driveable par 4's (if you take on the water). I double-crossed myself on these ones, playing safe and chunking my tee shots!

The big treat for us here is that it was one of our all-inclusive rounds so we had food and drinks after the round. The quality of food and service in the clubhouse was excellent, putting the Montgomerie to shame. Talking to a friend who has a golf travel business he mentioned that the Aspendos is now one of the most re-played courses in the area, and it is easy to see why.

Final thoughts

Then, just like that, it was time to return home and another golf trip was over. The Belek area of Turkey is an excellent golfing destination offering great value for money, where the courses are all close together, the hotels are of a good standard and everything is easy and on your doorstep. Be warned though, the weather can get extremely hot in the summer, so the shoulder seasons present a great time for peely-wally Scots to travel there!

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