Back in November 2014 , the world’s professional golf community arrived in Belek, Turkey , to compete in the Turkish Airlines open, to be played on the challenging Montgomery course, part of the Maxx Royal Golf and Spa Resort. Little were they to know that they were paving the way for the arrival of the Golf4Fun`s week of Turkish delights tour the following February.
The contingent from Switzerland assembled in wintery conditions on the last day in January at Zürich airport, with the prospect of warmer temperatures indeed a welcome. Some web forecasts however were indicating the possibility of rain showers over the course of the week, and so wet weather gear had been stowed as a precaution. Optimists amongst us had also packed shorts as after all, our Irish weather talisman was travelling in the group.
Check –in turned out to be remarkably hassle free, as the annual ski holiday scramble was still a week away, and the efficient pre -organization ensured that visas had been ordered and golf bag registrations were completed, allowing time for a preflight snifter in terminal E. Traffic control joined the party and our Sun Express flight to Antalya boarded and took off on time.
Our arrival in Turkey was in dark and rather breezy conditions. The wind as it turned out was to remain a feature for the next few days (nothing to do with the food!! )… but more of that later.
The transfer to the hotel was scheduled to take 30 minutes. Unfortunately, one of our group decided he just could not wait, making his own way there courtesy of another coach company. As none of us had been made aware of this plan, our departure was delayed as search parties were deployed in vain.
Eventually, we got underway and arriving at the hotel, sure enough, we discovered our esteemed colleague sitting quietly in reception. By this time it was past 1.00 in the morning and, as some of us were not playing the optional round in the morning, we took advantage of the all-inclusive package by checking out the Fortuna cabernet sauvignon from Chile – very palatable!!
Sunday, and heads re-attached to bodies after a sensational buffet brunch, some orientation was required as we checked out the Haagen Daz ice cream parlour , the chocolatier, the Luxemburgli room and the massive games room including 10 pin bowling !! Then it was off to hit a few balls at the Montgomery practice area, where the Platzreife hopefuls were busy receiving instruction from the Golf4Fun pro , sporting a rather catchy pair of shamrock covered strides.
At this point the rooms in hotel deserve a mention. LARGE — would be a good adjective that comes to mind, and after an hour in the Hammam what better way to finish than a few minutes in one’s own Jacuzzi bath in the room, a definite hit. The walk in shower was also a delight.
The wind –that’s the meteorological kind —that had greeted our arrival continued to make itself known and the next two days of competition with Monday at the Monty and Tuesday at the Lykia links were both a challenge as the breeze /gale became a factor in playing strategy. The Monty was slightly better protected by the tall pines, but there was no hiding at the Lykia . This writer remembers hitting a four iron directly out to sea on the Par 3 16th to watch it turn 90 degrees on the wind to land just off the right hand side of the green. The greens at the Lykia, though, definitely get a mention as, for one, they were uhhh –GREEN — and it was like putting on velvet – Best of the Week!!
Wednesday dawned, a glorious day, blue sky and no wind. Off to Sueno Pines . Today competitors would discover if their golf game over the last two days had been affected by the size of the Beaufort scale or was indeed just a natural hook or slice. Noticeable on this day were the number of buggies being hired as the combination of the all-inclusive and two days of walking took their toll.
Some of us managed some retail therapy over the course of the week by venturing into Belek town, to check out the Golf USA discount store. Unfortunately, the Turkish Lira had been having a hard time of it and so the resultant euro prices were not the bargains we had imagined or expected with the recent surge in the Swiss Franc. Even the plethora of original copy luxury watches could not tempt anyone. The majority of the purchases seemed to have been in the local chemist`s, with Aspirins and indigestion tablets well bid ( I can’t think why ! )
Thursday, and today our intrepid band faced the challenge of the Carya course, a course that boasts the longest par 5 in Turkey at 574m from the champs and still a daunting 480m from the regular tees. This was the final competition round and once again an early start for some with a 7.15 am pick up. So early that the course was wet with dew and so early putting experiences saw slow greens. The weather picked up though and we were to have the hottest day of the week in the end. Part of the group had booked later t-times to experience the conditions under floodlights on the only floodlit 18 hole golf course in Europe. However, all those dark corners led to one player losing his putter, and having to improvise with various irons as a replacement. There were, though, extenuating circumstances, namely the six mid round beers that may have contributed to the loss of the magic stick.
Friday, and a big day for the platzreife crew. Down to the Gloria Verde nine hole course and with another day of clement weather and another chance to see those emerald isle strides all the hopefuls came in with flying colours, a credit to all the hard practice they had put in over the week.
Friday evening was the last night of the tour, and as in previous evenings the majority met in the Horseshoe Bar where Sushi and various alcoholic beverages were served and, of course, still all included. Dinner was then served in the main dining room where the staff had kindly laid and decorated 2 large tables for the happy band of golfers. Food and drink consumed it was out to the terrace, with J Hendricks , Jack D and other friends (check out the photo of the Yakin brothers on Facebook ) and eventually time retire and reflect on a great week.
All in all, a magic golfing week in a magnificent hotel, with friendly staff, endless food and drink and hilarious company. I believe there are some accommodation prizes for the hotel up for grabs in this year’s upcoming tournament series!!!
This year Golf4Fun definitely – TOOK IT TO THE MAXX !!
POSTSCRIPT — It may be noticed that no names have been disclosed in this article and is done so intentionally . However, congratulations to Myriam for being crowned champion of the week.