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THE BELEK OF THE BALL
Golf on the Turkish Riviera


Antalya - The Ancient Harbour

In search of perfect winter golf within a few hours of the UK, DOMINIC PEDLER jetted to Southern Turkey where he discovered a classic new golf destination in the making.

I visited some of the Belek's finest courses including The National GC, designed by David Feherty; Tat Beach International GC, a Fred Hawktree creation; Gloria Golf Resort with its gallic influence; and Nobilis GC, a trip back in time.

Away from the golf, some may question the Belek nightlife which is largely confined to the resorts, many with all-inclusive packages, to make you a luxurious captive. But there is, for example, no Puerto Banus, as the Costa Del Sol golfers can enjoy - though that will come as a blessing for many who prefer to have the ancient the ruins of Perge and Aspendos on the doorstep.

Then there's the ability to ski in the Taurus Mountains, play golf and swim in the sea all in the same day (if you wish), thanks to incredibly cheap helicopter packages around the vicinity. And, of course, the relentless winter sun and the perfect golfing temperatures in the low 20s, is a trump card that few European destinations can match.

Some will cite the earthquake incidence as an excuse and, certainly, Turkey's tourist trade has suffered as a result. But as serious as this is, the risks should be put in perspective. Indeed, the quake zone is around 1,000 km (and over an hour's flying time) from the Belek, in a country which, by my calculations, is the size of the UK, France and state of Texas - combined.

I, for one, will be first in the queue when the next two courses open: one adjoining the Sirene City hotel, and the other to be named Topkapi after the magnificent Sultan's palace, in Istanbul, which inspired the classic '60s comedy thriller starring Peter Ustinov. Talking of comedy, with Hawtree, Feherty, Thomas and Gayon taking the lead, golf in Belek is all about the Englishman, the Irishman, the Welshman, and the Frenchman.

Only, this time, it's no joke.

Dominic Pedler's trip was arranged by Alternative Travel and Holidays and the Turkish Tourist Office. He flew with Turkish Airlines, via Istanbul.

Fact-File for Golf in Belek, Nr Antalya, Southern Turkey

Alternative Travel and Holidays - 0171 923 3230

Prices for four days on a hotel basis (five-star half-board) start from UKP379.00 per person. This includes flights, transfers and three rounds of golf.

Prices for seven days on a hotel basis (five star, half board) start from UKP439.00 per person. This includes flights, transfers and four rounds of golf.

Departures are from London and Manchester, regional departures on request.

Further information on holidays to Turkey is available from the Turkish Tourist Office: 0171 629 7771.

Other useful numbers: Turkish Airlines: 0171-766-9300 (Heathrow to Antalya via Istanbul) Cyprus Turkish Airlines: 0171 930 4852 (Stansted-Antalya non stop)

For general information on the golf courses and all contact details checkout www.golfturkey.com Green fees are typically between UKP20-40 per round with golf carts at UKP20, though the site will have details of seasonal changes, usually posted in Euros.