Turkey – and in particular the Mediterranen resort of Belek – has become a leading player on the European golf development scene in recent times. Located only 30 miles to the west of Antalya’s international airport, the area now boasts a growing number of top quality and accessible golf courses that are designed to satisfy the ever-increasing number of tourists who come to play golf.
Belek is situated on a long, sandy coastline that leads to a forest of eucalyptus and pine trees at the foot of the Taurus Mountain range and it on this fertile ground that a large number of golf courses have sprung up in a very short time. Titanic Golf Club (formerly TAT International) was one of the first complexes to be developed when Martin Hawtree designed a 27-hole layout on 325 acres in 1997.
The three loops of nine holes – named River, Mediterranean and Forest – are each configured with two par threes, five par fours and two par fives so whichever 18-hole layout you choose, it will have a par of 72 to play to. Situated on a tract of land between the Besgoz River and the Mediterranean Sea, it is no real surprise to learn that water comes into play at nearly half the holes on the property, though mostly in the shape of man made ponds and lakes.
Picking the best hole at each of the three nines is no easy task as there are a number of contenders on each loop.
The 193-yard, par three, 4th hole on the River loop is played facing inland, towards the mountains, from an elevated tee in the dunes to a green beyond a lake where the only bail out is right of the hole.
The 450-yard, par four, 12th hole on the Mediterranean nine plays along the coast beside the Med with out of bounds on the right (no beach recovery shots here!) and a large pine tree on the left at the landing area to hamper the over cautious tee shot.
The 517-yard, par five, 22nd hole on the Forest begins with a blind tee shot and ends with a green that is surrounded on three sides by water so the best policy is to lay-up with the second shot then hopefully pitch and putt for birdie.
Gary Johnson from European Golf Design is adding another nine holes at Titanic, with work commencing in the summer of 2020. The opening two holes on the Forest nine are to make way for a new beachfront hotel so they obviously need to be replaced. In addition, by re-routing holes and making use of available land along the coast, the golf facility can be expanded to 36 holes.
When the project is completed, Titanic will comprise two 18-hole layouts, the Black and the Red, but because all four loops will return to the clubhouse, it will be possible to interchange them if necessary for operational reasons. The current irrigation system is also to be replaced and the existing Bermuda grass regime changed to paspalum.
Titanic may be regarded as one of the weakest courses in Belek, yet the 27 holes, comprising the River (1-9), Mediterranean (10-18) and Forest (19-27) nines, have some excellent and diverse holes, undulating in places, and it is a good challenge overall for the scratch golfer. It's at the far western end of all the Belek courses, next to the National, and was in good condition when I played there in early November. The Mediterranean nine runs close to the beach, but there are no views of the sand or sea, and the holes closest to the beach are the most disappointing. An opportunity missed by the designer and developers. You have to place your tee shots carefully on several holes, as the large pine trees on the property play a big part in the defence of the holes. The 17th on the Med nine has trees scattered all over the fairway in the driving area! To score well at Titanic you need to drive the ball well off the tee.
TAT is perhaps not the greatest name for a golf course and if it was my property I'd change the name immediately. Nevertheless it's a nice course if perhaps a little in the "holiday" mould. With 27 holes called TAT, Belek and International, I'd be hard pressed to pick the best combination. Not up to the standard of the Sultan and National and not quite as good as the Pasha or Noblis but a nice friendly layout that won't beat you up too badly. Some of the best Ocean views in Belek aren't enough to persuade me to give it a four ball rating.