I had the pleasure of travelling to Turkey on behalf of DestinationGolf.Travel to play golf recently and made this video to explain everything you need to know to book your own holiday. It was an absolutely brilliant experience!!

I cover getting there via Turkish Airlines, staying at the Gloria Hotels, playing golf on the three Gloria Courses and things to do for the non golfer.

I hope this helps and encourages you consider Turkey as a destination for your golfing holiday.

Hi everyone its Donal here on behalf of DestinationGolf.TRAVEL and if you are thinking about a golf holiday in Turkey you're in the right place. I'm just back from a trip to Antalya and can fill you in on pretty much everything you need to know.

Now I had never golfed in Turkey before so I was very eager to see how it compared with other…..lets say more established golfing venues like Spain and Portugal. I've seen the Turkish Open on the European Tour there and it always looks amazing.

Now a little disclaimer before we start, this  wasn't your typical "lads"  golfing trip, this was a press trip with Turkish Airlines and Azalea, but having said that we were had a great little group.  Aodhnan and Johnny are longstanding sports journalists, Mark and Katie are young sports writers and I'm somewhere in the middle.  We had Onur as our host from Turkish Airlines, THE nicest guy you could meet, one of these people who are professional and super organised, always going a million miles an hour to make sure everything ran smoothly. And we had Neil from Azalea, former pro, top man who organised our stay in Gloria Hotels and golf on their adjoining courses.

But lets start with getting to Turkey from Ireland and the UK.  We flew Turkish Airlines from Dublin to Istanbul new airport, that’s about a 4 hour trip, and from there you hop onto a one hour flight to Antalya.  The new airport in Istanbul is something to behold, it is massive, the biggest airport in the world. It's a tourist destination in itself.  It’s the hub for Turkish Airlines, the "meeting place of the world" and they serve 238 different locations from there.  The Turkish Airlines business lounge in Istanbul is positively enormous, football pitch sized huge, with all the food you can eat.  There's private bedrooms and meeting rooms and even an art gallery, I mean its 5 star hotel stuff…..ultra modern and high tech yet with areas designed like a darkened quiet library…it's so well thought out.
There's even a masseuse that walks around and gives the weary traveller a back or neck rub.  If you treat yourself and fly business class with Turkish Airlines, access to this lounge is included in the fare and for me to experience business class, with the big high tech interactive entertainment seats, the flying chef, the service and to visit the Turkish Airlines business lounge for even a couple of hours was certainly one of the big highlights of the trip.

There are 14 Dublin-Istanbul-Antalya flights with Turkish Airlines every week, Economy class return starts from 358€and Business class return ticket starts from 1143€. Your first set of golf clubs are free, the baggage allowances are great also and you can find out more flight info on TurkishAirlines.com.

With Dublin to Istanbul to Antalya done by air, the bus transfer from Antalya airport to the Serenity Gloria Hotel where we were staying takes about 40 minutes. This is a top class hotel, by the sea, all inclusive too, which is great.  You simply don’t need money.  Food is always available 24 hours a day and all you can drink. I can never get my head properly around how that works financially, you tell an Irishman like me that there's a free bar and I'm like a moth to a lightbulb, but you know what, it's great. You are on holiday and it's ok to indulge a little!

As well as the always open main restaurant, you've got a Steakhouse, a Japanese sushi eatery and a French restaurant that you can book a table in.  We went to a different one every night, great food and wine, and when your stuffed you just get up and walk out without paying; it's all included!
Rooms are top notch as you'd expect in a 5 star resort, pristine clean, big open luxurious, loads of cool mods and cons, wifi'd up to the max and service checks on you.  They bring traditional Turkish treats to eat everyday, loads of fruit and my favourite…..a box of Pringles.

Before I get onto the golf, I want to mention the non golfers in our gang Katie and Onur because I was interested to see what they would do to pass the days.  I needn't have worried.  They went shopping in Belek which is five minutes down the road, they had massages and turkish bath treatments in the hotel, they went swimming, they went to the gym, they went to the beach, they even went to the incredible driving range and short game facilities at the Gloria Golf Resort and got some lessons from the pros!

Which brings us to the golf.   We played three rounds.  A warm up on the 9 hole Verde course the day after we arrived and then the Old and New Gloria courses.  I say "warm up" on the 9 hole course, but we played from the back tees and it was a beast of a track; I absolutely loved it.
The Old and New courses are top class layouts. They both hosted countless professional and amateur events, top Tour events and you can immediately see why. I've been lucky enough to play Valderrama and the Gloria Old Course in Belek is Valderrama on steroids. Fairways are flanked by pines with big exploding canopies of needles, that when your ball hits them, they suck it in, and drop it straight down.  They are always in your way if you are wayward and it is just brilliant fun trying to plot your way around.  You get the occasional break from the pines too to play super holes over water.  The greens are relatively flat so you CAN get putts; it was just a class track, everyone loved it and pretty much played to their handicap too which made it more enjoyable.

The new course is a little wider and more undulating, a different test to the Old. But a super test nonetheless.  This is proper golf, you have to hit your shots.  From the back tees you have to be able to move your ball to be in with a chance of scoring.  You could transplant any of these courses home and they would be in the top 5% here…there is no question about that.
The weather on the other hand in Turkey is excellent pretty much all year round.  We did see a little bit of rain, it was December, but that just served to keep the golf courses green and lush and natural…..it is mostly warm and sunny and playing golf in your t-shirt two weeks before Christmas felt great!

In summary the courses, facilities and service at the Gloria Golf Resort are top class; as a total package I don’t think I've visited any place in the world as well equipped as it.  You could happily spend a day moving from the range to one of the many chipping greens and on to the putting green.  The clubhouse itself is hotel sized with a top class restaurant and bar. Lockers and showers are pristine and even you've arrived without clubs, they have everything absolutely you need to get you out on the course. More info on the hotel and golf can be found on www.gloria.com
And its not just golf that Gloria do.  And I think this puts how they do things into perspective.  Down the road from the golf courses is the Gloria Sports Arena which is up there with the best training facilities in the world. Pitches, an athletics track, indoor and outdoor 50 metre swimming pools, Olympic diving facilities, countless gym and indoor courts, athlete accommodation and what was were simply incredible injury rehabilitation facilities.  We went into their Icelab, 3 minutes in a room at minus 136 degrees C, I was super nervous, but it was an incredible experience!

One thing you have to do while in the region is a shopping visit to the markets in Antalya.  Our bus  parked down at the marina where all the tourist trip boats go from, it’s a really vibrant area with gorgeous views and about a 10 minute walk to the markets where you can get everything.  Even if you don’t want anything! Everything is a haggle, every purchase involves a bit of gesturing and walking away but that’s the way its done; and it can be fun too.  And there's no doubt that even after all the haggling you'll away with a bargain.

My overall takeaway is that I loved Turkey, I would and will go back there in a heartbeat.  It is safe and welcoming, the Gloria Hotels are gorgeous with impeccable service, the golf courses are super tests and off the course there's so much to do for the non golfer.

For more information on Turkey, you can view our bespoke golf guide on DestinationGolf.TRAVEL but from me for now thanks for watching and enjoy your Turkish golfing holiday.

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