Top 100 Golf Courses revises its South East Europe rankings 2020
The South East of Europe doesn’t have much by way of a golfing tradition and there are fewer than ten thousand registered participants in Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, so the vast majority of the golf played in these countries is attributable to visiting golfers. We profile twenty-five courses across these three nations and that represents around three-quarters of all the golf facilities available for play.
In particular, Turkey’s Belek region on the Mediterranean coastline accounts for most of the golfing activity from groups of incoming golfers attracted by the incredible year-round stay-and-play packages on offer at many of the 5-star hotels. Security concerns saw numbers fall off dramatically in 2016 but business is booming once again, with Antalya airport handling more than 30 million international passenger arrivals in 2019.
We were in Bulgaria last year visiting the Pirin Resort in the mountain region to the south of Sofia. We thought it was also worth having a look at some of the other leading golf facilities in the country while we were there, so we called into another couple of places near the capital, then flew to Varna to see how the three Black Sea resort courses in Cape Kaliakra fitted into the national mix.
The resulting article, Top 5 Golf Courses of Bulgaria 2019, lists Thracian Cliffs as our Bulgarian #1 and that’s the position it will retain until we next re-rank the nation at the start of 2022. The course also rides high in the top half of our Continental European Top 100 chart.
|1||Thracian Cliffs||No change|
To view the complete detailed list of the Top 5 Golf Courses of Bulgaria click the link.
Located an hour’s drive west of Kalamata International airport, the Costa Navarino resort currently boasts two terrific 18-hole layouts. The Dunes course remains our national #1, designed by Bernhard Langer with Ross McMurray from European Golf Design and opened for play in 2010. It’s complemented by the Robert Trent Jones Junior-designed Bay course which lies ten kilometres away, next to the lovely little seaside village of Pilos, at the entrance to the beautiful Bay of Navarino.
Costa Navarino - Dunes course
Another two 18-hole courses are now under construction on a 125-hectare site at Navarino Hills, overlooking the Bay course, and these holes are being laid out by two-time Masters champion and Ryder Cup legend José María Olazábal, with a view to opening next year. Who knows, either one might feature in our Greek chart when we next update the national listings two years from now.
|1||Costa Navarino (Dunes)||No change|
|2||Costa Navarino (Bay)||No change|
|4||Porto Carras (Olive Grove)||Up 1|
To view the complete detailed list of the Top 5 Golf Courses of Greece click the link.
The course at the Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort is still our #1 in Turkey. Host venue for three editions of the Turkish Airlines Open from 2016 to 2018, the 18-hole layout is a Thomson, Perrett & Lobb design that weaves its way through stands of pine and eucalyptus trees on a 260-acre property, where many of the fairways are fringed with huge swathes of locally cultivated heather. For those who want to continue playing late into the evening, a state-of-the-art floodlighting system allows that to happen, long after the sun has gone down.
The biggest upward move in our Turkish table is made by the course at National Antalya, where the original Irmak and Tuna nines climb two spots to #4. Debuting in 1994, the course held the first professional golf tournament ever organised in Turkey two years later when it hosted an event on the European Senior Tour. In 2008, female professionals got in on the act, with the first of seven editions of the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open held at the club.
Tim Lobb’s recent design at Regnum Golf & Country Club Bodrum is the only new entry in the revised Turkish chart, arriving at No. 12. Developed by Fikret Öztürk, the owner of both the Carya resort in Belek and the local 9-hole Bodrum Golf and Tennis Club, this course is set out on strongly contoured terrain with lightly bunkered fairways routed around a producitive olive grove. Up to 275 villas are scheduled to be built on the 1,450-acre property over several years.
|2||Cornelia (Prince)||No change|
|3||Antalya (Sultan)||Up 1|
|4||National Antalya (Irmak & Tuna)||Up 2|
|5||Lykia Links||Down 2|
|6||Sueno (Pines)||Down 1|
|7||Montgomerie Maxx Royal||No change|
|8||Antalya (Pasha)||No change|
|9||Gloria (Old)||No change|
|10||Sueno (Dunes)||Up 1|
|11||Gloria (New)||Down 1|
|12||Regnum Bodrum G&CC||New entry|
|13||Kusadası International||Down 1|
|14||Robinson Nobilis||Up 1|
|15||Titanic (River & Mediterranean)||Down 1|
To view the complete detailed list of the Top 15 Golf Courses of Turkey click the link.
The course at Tbilisi Hills Golf & Residences has recently been added to our Georgia listings and this Lassi Pekka Tilander-designed track in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains is one of a select number of golf facilities operating within the European Tour Properties network. As far as we know, it’s the only 18-hole golf course that’s open for play in the country.
Top 100 Golf Courses