The Old course at the Gloria Golf Resort opened for play in September 1997 and was fashioned by the French golf course designer Michel Gayon. It’s one of the eldest Turkish golf courses and has become a true favourite for thousands of travelling golfers with many returning annually. The beautiful forest location at the feet of the Taurus Mountains provides a wonderful amphitheatre for golf and Gayon has a created a classic design that will remain one of Turkey’s great courses despite the boom of new layouts that are rapidly springing up in the Belek area.
The Old course opens up strongly with the 1st, a par five requiring an approach over water, followed by the par three 2nd, again crossing water, this time from tee to green. The Old Gloria course then continues through delightful pine woodland, with a collection of strong holes that bring seven lakes into play and more than sixty bunkers. Many great courses feature a short par four and the Old course has the 16th with a massive lake to the left, out of bounds to the right and bunkers at the green. Short yes, but easy it is not and par is always a welcome score.
The greens are maintained to a high standard with a carpet-like feel and are among the best in the area. The Gloria resort boasts a fabulous new clubhouse, extensive practice facilities, a further 27 holes (including the New course) and an atmosphere for the golfer taking priority. All these factors help to make the Gloria Golf Club a very special experience.
I’m surprised to see the Old course at Gloria sitting higher in the national rankings than the New – for me, the New course is easily the better 18-layout – in fact, I enjoyed playing the new 9-hole Verde course so much that I’d probably prefer to tackle it twice on a return visit instead of replaying the Old! Gloria’s a fabulous 45-hole facility, with brilliant practice facilities and a very comfortable clubhouse but I feel the weakest part of the entire set-up is the Old course.
Everything’s relative, of course, and the Old is still a good track, even though the necessity of altering the sequence of holes to accommodate the new clubhouse has resulted in a round now beginning unsatisfactorily with a pair of intimidating water-laden holes and finishing with a weak par three that’s located a good distance from the clubhouse – I got the feeling I’d taken part in a shotgun event, starting and ending at holes that weren’t the proper 1st and 18th.
The course is maybe showing its ages in a few places by playing a little tighter than originally intended due to the natural growth of the trees lining the fairway and I certainly felt this was the case at the 6th and the 12th. The lakeside par threes at the 7th and 14th didn’t impress (such penal golf course architecture has never endeared itself to me) though I thought the best hole on the card was the par four 13th (pictured), where the green juts out into the same body of water, with a big beach bunker wrapping itself round the back of the putting surface to prevent over-hit approach shots getting wet.
Overall, the presentation was of a high standard on the Old course so no complaints on that score but it’s no coincidence that the New course is the one used when prestigious amateur and professional events are hosted by the club because it’s the better balanced of the two 18-hole tracks. It’s also a pity that all forty-five fairways at Gloria are laid out a good distance away from the coast, though that can be said of all the courses in Belek, not just here.
Gloria is an impressive golfing facility, easy to access off the main road which passes the golf resorts. Attractive modern clubhouse and excellent practice facilities. No surprise that it has hosted many pro and amateur tournaments, which are listed in the pro shop. The opening two holes, with daunting water hazards to be carried to the greens, are a surprise, because you would expect holes like these towards the end of the round, not the beginning. They make for a slow start. The general theme is an attractive mix of tree-lined holes in the pine forest, and open vistas where water comes into play. The greens complexes are superbly designed and presented, and add to the layout’s character. The back nine is full of variety, although disappointingly ends with a plain par 3. Slow play was an issue, mainly because there were no marshalls chasing the culprits. Between the Old and New courses is the Verde 9-holer, which might be shorter in length, yet has plenty of good holes. Being uncrowded, it is worth a detour if you’re frustrated by slow play.