​Carya in Belek heads up our new rankings for Turkey

26 January 2018 Respond to this article

Carya in Belek heads up our new rankings for Turkey

With only eighteen golf clubs operating across the nation, you might think a Top 15 chart for Turkey veers towards overprovision of the product on our part but there’s a genuine depth of quality to be found in the golf courses around the country, particularly in the Belek region, so we make no apology for showcasing so many of these top tracks.

It’s hard to believe there wasn’t a single course located along the Mediterranean seaboard at the start of the 1990s but that all changed when the government designated eleven plots of land behind the existing coastal-fronted resort hotels for golf development to help fill otherwise empty bedrooms during the quieter shoulder seasons and winter months.

Wisley Golf Club member Bulent Goktuna was keen to expand the game in his home country so he managed to secure one of the first parcels of land allocated for golf on a 50-year lease before engaging the services of David Jones and David Feherty to co-design the first course at The National Golf Club, with the trend setting layout opening in late 1994.

The rest, as they say, is golfing history. The club started out with less than a hundred members but it wasn’t long before Scandinavian golfers began to arrive, escaping the long, harsh winter at home for the pine fringed fairways of Turkey’s Riviera on the Med. Once direct charter flights to nearby Antalya became popular, the Dutch, Germans and British would also arrive in increasing numbers.

In 1995, the estimated number of visiting golfers was around 15,000. Twenty years later, that annual figure was almost half a million, according to statistics from the Belek Hotel Owners Association. Unfortunately, perceived security concerns have slowed growth in the last couple of years but an approximate total of five and a half million rounds over a 20-year period is still a mightily impressive statistic.

And so to our Turkish rankings, which were last updated two years ago.

Carya Golf Club

Our new national number 1, rising two places to the top spot, is the current venue for the European Tour’s Turkish Airlines Open, the course at Carya Golf Club in Belek. Opened for play in November 2008, the course was envisioned as a 27-hole layout by its owner but architects Thomson, Perrett & Lobb convinced the client that an exceptional 18-hole course was preferable to the intended three loops of nine. The native heather initially discovered on the southern section of the property has since been transplanted throughout the course, giving the layout its distinctive, somewhat surprising, heathland feel.

We visited the course last year and had this to say about what we found: “it’s blatantly obvious that no expense has been spared when installing the infrastructure here… the majestic umbrella pines that flank the fairways and the acres of heathers fronting many of the tee boxes sets the mood for a round which is played on a surprisingly undulating site… Carya certainly sets a very high standard.” Not only does the course now assume the mantle of national number 1, a position it will be hard to displace from when we next re-rank Turkey in two years’ time, Carya also shot twenty places up our Continental Europe Top 100 listings last month, breaking into the Top 50 at number 40.

Cornelia Price course

Also climbing two places to the national runner-up position in Turkey is the Prince course at the Cornelia Golf Resort in Belek, which lies less than four kilometres east of Carya. Designed by Nick Faldo and in operation for a decade now, the 27-hole facility at Cornelia is laid out within one of the more heavily contoured parcels of land in the region, affording it a natural feel that many of its close competitors lack. Host venue for the Eisenhower Trophy in 2012, Cornelia also rose a massive sixteen places in the latest edition of our European Top 100 to number 59 so it’s onward and upward for the top two tracks in Turkey!

Kusadasi International Golf Club

Our only new entry appears at number 12 and it’s an 18-hole layout from José Canales Mas Golf Uno Golf Design at Kusadasi International Golf Club on the Aegean coast, situated between the small town of Söke and the resort town of Kuşadası. It’s the first course in Turkey built within a residential development and it overlooks both the Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta National Park and the nearby Greek island of Samos. Set out on hilly terrain, there’s around 130 metres in elevation change across the property, offering simply stunning views of the surrounding mountain ranges and the Aegean Sea. Fairways have been cut through small plantations of olive and carob trees and holes are routed around the contours of two adjacent ridges, with a couple of lakes also coming into play on the front nine.

We’re aware of a new project opening this year in Bodrum, where Tim Lobb has built a new course for the Carya owner, Fikret Ozturk of Regnum Hotels. Set inland from the coast in the mountains, it’s a strongly contoured course featuring rocky outcrops. Due to the difficult terrain, bunkering was developed in the field via sketch ideas and philosophies. Careful attention has been paid to ground conditions, with run offs, small undulations and trees forming the back bone of the playing strategy. An olive grove previously occupied the land and as much of it as possible was retained during construction. Expect to see this 18-hole layout, "Country Life", feature in our next news item on Turkish golf courses.

Thanks to Tim Lobb of Lobb & Partners for background material used in compiling this report.

Rank/ Course Move
1 Carya Up 2
2 Cornelia (Prince) Up 2
3 Lykia Down 2
4 Antalya (PGA Sultan) Down 2
5 Sueno (Pines) No change
6 National Antalya (Irmak & Tuna) Up 1
7 Montgomerie Maxx Royal Down 1
8 Antalya (Pasha) No change
9 Gloria (Old) No change
10 Gloria (New) Up 1
11 Sueno (Dunes) Up 1
12 Kusadası International New entry
13 Klassis No change
14 Titanic (River & Mediterranean) No change
15 Robinson Nobilis Down 5


To view further details of the Top 15 for Turkey click the link.

You’ll never see Top 100 Golf Courses claim that we publish “definitive” golf course listings but we do like to think that we produce the “most informed” rankings that you’ll find anywhere within the public domain of the golf media. We thrive on feedback so if there’s anything you’d like to tell us about our new Turkish standings then please use the “Respond to this article” link at the top or bottom of this page to give us your opinion.

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses