The second ‘championship’ course at the luxurious Gloria Resort is called the New and, like the Old course, was also designed by Frenchman Michel Gayon. Opened in late 2005, this undulating tree-lined track is challenging yet fair and there are many unforgettable holes.
The par five 2nd has a wonderful undulating fairway and the 3rd is a great short hole, named ‘The Quarry’ where the tee shot is played over rocks to a green that is a lot wider than it is long. An average length par five comes at the end of the front nine, but with a lake all the way down the right of the fairway, the name ‘Watery Grave’ says it all.
There is belief that all golf courses have an obligation to have a cracking 17th hole (St Andrews, Wentworth, Sawgrass etc.) and the Gloria’s 17th on the New course is actually not dissimilar to the famous Sawgrass hole with its own island green, a little wind and a great trade in lake balls around the green. The water theme continues at the last hole and is similar to the 9th, where the same lake comes into play, this time down the left of the entire hole, providing a dramatic end that can ruin scorecards and turn matchplay games around.
At the turn of the new millennium, the Old course at the Gloria Resort hosted three PGA European Seniors Tour Turkish Opens but, when the event returned to Turkey in 2007 after a six-year absence, it was the New course that played host. This underlines the depth and quality of the Gloria Resort with both the Old and New courses capable of wearing the ‘big event’ tag.
With a further nine holes – named the Gloria Verde – set around another big lake in the midst of a pine forest and off-course facilities as good as anywhere in Europe, the Gloria Resort is high quality through and through.
Having stayed a few days at the Serenity Resort during the recent PGAs of Europe Annual Congress, I was only too aware of the quality of Gloria’s off-course facilities. The 45-hole golf complex that accompanies the three attached resort hotels more than matches the excellent standard of the accommodation and I can fully understand why this place was ranked #5 in Golf World’s recent Top 100 Golf Resorts in Continental Europe chart.
The New course co-hosted (along with the Old course) the Espirito Santo Ladies World Amateur Team Championships in 2012 and the European Challenge Tour returns here for the third edition of the Turkish Airlines Challenge in April so this is a top track which is capable of testing the very best elite amateur and professional players of either sex.
The first thing to impress was the conditioning, which is something I generally pay little attention to when visiting a course (especially during the winter off-season when it’s such a transient factor that can often detract from more serious review criteria) but in this case it was hard to ignore the immaculate state of the fairways, playing firm and fast only 24 hours after a couple of days of very heavy rain showers.
The rolling topography of the opening half dozen holes is very pleasing on the eye but the flatter holes from 7 to 10, along with the closing three holes on the inward half, are routed around a large body of water (complete with island green on the 17th) and this aquatic component lends itself to a rather predictable, formulaic finish to both nines: the 9th hole running along the left side of the lake and the 18th running down the right side of the same hazard.
I can see why professional players will like the New course because everything’s laid out in front of them, with no surprise elements to impede their progress around the layout and I’m sure casual golfers will enjoy the buggy ride around here on holiday, even if some of the tree-lined fairways, like the par five 4th, are a bit too tight. As a complete stay and play package, Gloria’s a formidable contender in a very competitive market.