Golf Balls…not included – Belek 2016


A return trip for this Tiger and his now playing Tigress to the delights of the all-inclusive Maxx Royal Golf and Spa resort in Belek,Turkey.

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We were part of a group of 20 Golf4Fun members, with some making a return pilgrimage to this Mecca of golf, and a few new faces to this event, notably our season`s final raffle winners and our, soon to be a father, 2015 season champion.

Leaving Zurich on our Sun Express charter to Antalya, on a rather damp Saturday evening, these 19 chickens and their Hen ( as our organiser had Christened us ) were soon clucking and walking onto a pair of transfer buses – thankfully this year all accounted for .

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After what seemed no time at all, our transport was pulling up outside the hotel, and the staff very quickly dealt with our registration, and had porters taking our luggage to the respective rooms. As it later transpired not all the luggage arrived in the correct room initially, but this was a minor inconvenience and not noticed by many as they availed themselves of the delights of the 24 hour a -la -carte restaurant, albeit 1.00 am .

Sunday morning, and after a hearty breakfast, the first optional round awaited us, Gloria Old. The decision to carry today was made for two reasons, one it was, of course, a sunny but not too hot day, and secondly I thought I should do something to counter the large calorific intake over the last 24 hours. It was pleasing to see the rest of my flight had passed on the buggy option.

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Gloria Old is a tight, pine tree lined course with its fair sprinkling of water hazards. Today my driver and I were having a difference of opinion, and my bag was somewhat lighter at the end of my round than it had been at the beginning.

Having walked and carried, my 50-odd year old body was beginning to ache, with my muscles and joints needing some TLC . Here in the Maxx Royal one of the benefits is a Jacuzzi bath in your room. I rather overdid it with the bubbles (Understatement!!) but the resultant warm glow soon eased those creaky joints.

Off to the Royal Horse Lounge, where the group was meeting for pre-dinner drinkies, and Sushi for those that did not feel calorie challenged. I just plumped for the deliciously fruity chilled Chardonnay accompanied by nuts and crisps   (hmnmmmm).

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Then it was to dinner, accompanied by an amusing Chilean red and, unfortunately, later by some equably enjoyable Port wine.

Monday, and after the fog had lifted from my frontal lobe, and the ringing inside my head had stopped (Oh no that was the alarm clock!!) the early hour meant it was Montgomery day. A quick breakfast and the shuttle bus had us at the clubhouse just before 8.00 am, with time for a quick test of the pace of the greens and not much else.

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With my driver still sulking back at the hotel, I pulled my Mizuno 5 wood from the bag and the resultant drive and subsequent par on the first seemed to offer hope for my golf game. One again though, as the round progressed, my donations to the lake ball glut continued.

Now, the Montgomery is a championship course, indeed it had hosted the Turkish open not two months previously, however the subsequent reseeding had failed due to an unseasonal lack of rain and so the course was not in its best condition, which I told myself was the reason for my rather erratic ball flight. Assurances have been made the course will be in a lot better nick next year.

Having settled on the veranda overlooking the 18th and partaking of a beer and the excellent Monty steak sandwich, conversation moved onto discussing the Golf4Fun newsletter. After the round I had just played a pro`s corner slot seemed like a good idea, then there was Jay`s agony column, and possibly a horoscope page — e.g. –Virgo – Today you might mostly be playing golf —at least that’s what you think you’re playing!! Have you considered taking up knitting maybe?

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The following day the sun continued to shine with the mercury rising enough to allow the wearing of shorts, and we were off to the National Links. Further joy was instilled in this golfer as the use of artificial aids to waken one were not required. Having played the Monty yesterday this course was a sea of green and looked in fine condition.

The island green par 3 second is a real beauty. Hitting an 8 iron right off the sweet spot I watched as the ball landed on the dancefloor and then watched as it slipped quietly over the back to finish wet, and heading to the drop zone.

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My driver and I had been reconciled, without the need for legal representation, but there were a few niggles still to iron out, and on the 10th Bubba turned up. The group in front of us had not been in danger from any of our group`s tee shots up until now, as my Titleist Pro V1 scuttled past the group in front for which I had to humbly apologise for after. Just goes to show you always err on the safe side.

Tonight the group dined in the Tepanyaki restaurant, where we were given a grand show by the chefs and some pretty damn fine food as well. Remember folks this is all inclusive!! After cooked vegetables, which were enough to make a protein freak like me think twice about turning, fried rice, langoustine, scallops, and Kobe beef this diner was ready for a digestive, wisely avoiding the Grappa ( Spring break memories!! ) and taking a Port and just one as   tomorrow was the Titanic.

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Altering the name of this devil in green from TAT to Titanic may have been an unfortunate choice, but Hey!! they only had to fork out for 4 extra letters to place above the entrance. Nothing else though has been skimped on this fine 27 holes layout with top notch buggies, friendly staff, manicured fairways and true greens.

Today we were to play the Mediterranean/Forest combination. As, dear reader, you may have gathered by day 4 there was a serious shortage on the golf ball front in my bag. So having purchased probably the most expensive sleeve of Pinnacle Gold from the pro shop I then set out to endeavour to lose them. This was finally achieved on the 15th after what had been another average round, though with some highlights I will cherish but not bore you with.

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Kaya Eagles up next, and the sun remained high for day 5. The Kaya is a shorter course with some sharp dog legs, so the driver was left at the hotel. It turned out to be the best round of the week for me, with lost balls kept to a minimum, and my playing partners also recording good scores. In fact, it turned out mostly all participants had a good day and the pressure to purl one, stitch one receded.

Suddenly and all too quickly it was the final day. The alarm clock was required again as a rematch with the Monty required an early tee time. After the encouragement of yesterday my round began Par,Par,Par , and my playing partners I am sure were on the point of contacting the handicap committee, but they were not to worry as I lost my first ball on the 4th and there were a few more to follow on the next few holes.

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Once again ( and we all know why ) we had had a glorious week weather wise and so after around 15 minutes of the last group coming in , the weather gods decided enough was enough, and the heavens opened with some gusting wind thrown in for good measure.

My morning finished sitting in front of a roaring fire in the clubhouse, sipping a Turkish coffee and joined by some rather yummy chocolates. Perfick.

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The return journey was almost seamless, but for a computer glitch. As the hotel had a VIP check-in and lounge at the airport that certainly speeded things up as we were whisked through security and passport control.

The end of another great trip having played some great courses, only putting on 1 kilo, despite the best efforts of the all-inclusive Maxx Royal and single- handedly doubling world demand for white spherical objects. If only golf balls were included!!

Lastly , many thanks to Nora for all the organisation , it’s not easy keeping 19 chickens all satisfied, and congratulations to Mehmet for being the golfer of the week, although Myriam and Ryan gave him close competition with just 2 points separating first and third.

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Hopefully this year’s global growth, the employment market and the region`s troubles will all improve, which combined with a complete collapse in the price of golf accessories will allow me and others to return to this great location in 2017.

Peter Martin, Hopeful Tiger 2016