Antalya Golf Club is one of the very best golfing complexes in Belek, adjacent to the 440-room Sirene Belek Golf Hotel. Golfing residents and casual visitors are spoiled for choice as they can choose to play either or both of two great 18-hole layouts – the Sultan and the Pasha.
European Golf Design and David Jones designed the courses at the start of the new millenium and they are laid out over relatively flat terrain, with tree-lined fairways and a liberal sprinkling of pot bunkers and lakes.
At 6,300 yards from the back tees, the Pasha is 700 yards shorter than the Sultan but, as the club says, “it is no walk in the woods” to play the smaller course as the quality of greens, difficulty of bunker positioning and location of water hazards are every bit as good on both layouts.
There are back-to-back short par fours to be played on the front nine at holes 3 and 4, and on the back nine at holes 11 and 12. The hardest of these is probably the shortest – the 291-yard 11th where water runs all the way down the left of the fairway and four bunkers guard the green from those who attempt to drive it from the tee.
The only par three on the inward half is the 145-yard 17th called “Plateau” where water again threatens down the left and two large bunkers protect the front of a shallow putting surface.
Although much shorter than the adjoining Sultan layout, the Pasha lacks nothing when it comes to interesting course design. Factor in the undulating, flawless greens plus numerous water hazards and you're left with a fun course that is enjoyable for all abilities.
Perhaps the main difference between the two courses is the cluster of short par-3's and 4's on the Pasha but as well as offering good scoring opportunities three of these holes were amongst my favourites. Accuracy from the tee is the key to success at the 300 yard 4th as the hole bends right to a wickedly sloping green located in a wooded dell. Anything played to the right side of the fairway will leave a blind approach, further hindered by a large pine tree. The 11th, "Take a chance", was another favourite which tempts the longer hitter to attack a sloping green jealously guarded by a ring of bunkers and a lake running along the left side of the fairway. Less than 300 yards in length maybe but the anticipated birdies failed to materialize.
My pick from the collection of relatively short par-3's comes at the 5th which plays over water to an attractive two-tier green but overall I slightly prefer the back nine which manages to retain a nice balance of genuine birdie opportunities and strategic longer holes. The 13th "Dilemma", a lovely risk and reward par-5 and the 15th "Deception", a difficult long par-4 with water running the full length of the hole are particularly memorable. Afterwards it didn't surprise me to hear that some mid to high handicappers actually preferred the Pasha as the examination on the Sultan can be quite daunting for some. Another good reason to give Belek a try if you haven't already done so. Brian W
The Pasha plays second fiddle to the PGA Sultan at an upscale 36-hole establishment but there’s absolutely no shame in that support role because this shorter course was clearly laid out to offer a gentler challenge to that of its championship-calibre sibling.
Water hazards intrude at seven holes, with four of them played on the back nine. This is hardly a surprise as the inward half plays through the flatter part of the property and you can understand why two large ponds were excavated to provide spoil that was used to create contours on these holes.
With three par threes on the outward half, this nine plays 350 metres shorter than the inward half. A couple of short par fours at the 3rd and 4th also contribute to the lack of length on these holes, where the 417-metre 9th – with its rather strange zig-zag-style of fairway – is rated stroke index 1.
Soon after the turn, the short par four 11th (“Take a Chance”) catches the eye, its fairway wrapped around the right side of a lake (with the par three 17th sitting on the other side of this hazard) as it doglegs left to the green and this hole was, for me, the best on the scorecard.
There appeared to be a tree management program in operation as quite a lot of trees looked to have been recently felled behind a number of the greensites, lessening the secluded feeling of these holes by opening out views onto other parts of the course.
If you have the time to play 36 holes in one day then by all means choose the Pasha as your warm up round in the morning. The PGA Sultan is the more demanding track but there’s enough challenge here to hopefully ensure your game will be in good order for the afternoon round.
This may not be the premier course at the Antalya Golf Club but it's a great little track and a tough one too. It's not long but with tight fairways and plenty of water this is the real thing and it's almost as good as the Sultan. In terms of fun and excitement it's every bit as good for the average player. Thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Belek and the attached Sirene Hotel is first class too. Hard to beat in my opinion.