September finally came round and eight of us headed off to Turkey for our long-awaited tour to Belek, near Anatalya. A fantastic golf area with a host of impressive hotels within minutes of great courses. A few guys had been to Belek before, one or two more recently but for most it was all new and we were itching to get going. Just over 4hours on a delayed flight, not before bets were made at the airport on our choice of tour winner, we eventually made it after midnight to enjoy a few beers and all inclusive food at the late night restaurant and it was game on.
Cornelia Diamond is a huge hotel and we were pleased we wangled a slight upgrade for single rooms given the long hot days of golf ahead.
Weather was fantastic, I guess an average of 35degrees with blue skies and bright sunshine… sneaking higher on a couple of days. As a result, the pool (and the bar) were much frequented.
Faldo course just up the road started us off, and we played the Queens and Princes 9s. Half the challenge on Day1 was to acclimatise to the heat. It is a tricky course with some tight fairways and big dropoffs around the green.
We played off the whites and planned to alternate with yellows during the week. As a result no one was scored particularly well. Backdoor Johnny started the week strongly and scooped the front with 16, before I came back with 18pts. We shared overall Day1 on a modest 30pts and Sean’s detailed daily results scoresheet had its first column completed.
I’m afraid Mr Winkle and Mr Loveless didn’t stand much of a chance against JC and myself in the pairs match. On the other fourball we heard Sean had 2 for the win on the 18th in his match and decided to take 3 putts much to his partner Richies’ bemusement. May have been mentioned a few times that evening. A steaming day and we were back to the hotel for drinks and a free cocktails seeing the sun go down at the Pier Bar. Nice.
Day 2 – Montgomerie Maxx Royal
Again barely 5mins away, we played the Montgomerie Maxx course off the yellows… a previous host to the Turkish Open, and the clubhouse was a venue for the 2016 GC summit and featured big picture of a certain Barak Obama during his visit. The friendliest course of the week, the waiters and staff were great, and the venue impressed espeically as we found out our ticket included food and drinks. Note to anyone heading over there on an all inclusive, take a bundle of 5euros for tipping drivers and staff.
We all enjoyed the course, again tight and well designed it was the choice of all of us if we did squeeze another round into Day7 on the day we headed home. An optimistic shout as we were all happy to spend the final day lounging about the pool all day before the pick up. Montgomerie has a floodlit 9 holes, whereas we saw all of Carya can be played under lights. However after the heat of the day golf we never felt the urge to head out again in the evening to play under the lights. Maybe next time….
Johnny C continued his solid play but on the day it was halved between Graham and Jaggsy on an impressive 34pts. A good evening at the buffet, then we headed down for a band at the Pier bar before we moved to the Dome bar for more drinks at we saw in Backdoor Johnny’s 65th birthday!
Day 3 – Carya GC
Current host for the Turkish Masters, it was clearly the slowest round of the week. A tough course and penalties for missing greens, harsh drop offs, plenty of water and springy rough in which golf balls settled well down in.
Partnering Mattie, it wasn’t Strongbow’s best day but we at least took Richie and Mr Lovely to the 17th, with Richie and I sharing the overall with 31 pts. We all found it tough (and slow). Painfully slow in fact, we thought it was the Scottish fourball ahead of us, then we thought it was their other fourball ahead of them, but turned out it was the mixed group further ahead. Urgh, too hot and too slow to really get into the course.
Special note to Strongbow on the par5 12th. After his drive hit the bench just forward of the tree, his subsequent free drop them smashed into sign of the hole ahead of him before finding itself further up the rough beside a huge metal light post. After hitting out, his next shot saw him down by the G.U.R. temporary green. A thinned chip ‘over’ the water then skipped 3 times in a Dambusters style before hitting the bank popping out and and landing 20yards short of the green. The following chip to about 3inches led to a fantastic 7 for 1pt. Amazing hole for our Mr Strong.
Decent layout at Sultan and some tough pins but dont expect much service or any smiles from staff. Little courtesies dont cost much but are obvious comparing to Montgomery the day before. Saying that, anyone heading over should note that all the golf staff do tend to head off by about 4pm so stack up with plenty of water if you are tee’ing off about midday because you’re unlikely to see a drinks cart.
Tour front-runner JC started out well again with 19pts before a run of lost balls saw him come back in a surprising 9pts. As a result, the tally for the week saw a certain Mr Jaggs hit the top of the leaderboard.
Managed to get into one of the separate restaurants at the hotel in the evening as we again celebrated JC’s 65th birthday.
Day 4 – PGA Sultan Course, Antalya GC (National talk like a pirate day, hmmm)
Another lazy morning enjoying brealfast followed by a swim and sun before a pick up for the much vaunted Sultan course which was expected to be the best of the week. Jaggsy excelled with 35pts round a tough course. Mr Loveless was a casualty today in the other group falling down the points whilst Richie and I lost to Sean and the very steady JC in our fouball.
Former host of the Turkish Open is its a great alyout and clubhouse, the course in decent nick. Several top holes to challenge us – with some great par5’s which characterised all the courses throughout the week for me. However another late-ish tee time meant we werent looked after on our way round as we expected. Tai pen restaurant in the evening – an a-la-carte restaurant that a-la-wasnt but at least we were fed before evening drinks seeing the City lose to Lyon.
Day 5 – Titanic GC
Another scorcher at the Titanic (formerly Tat) course for ‘moving day’ on the Tour… deciding the top and bottom 4 for the fourballs on the final day. A slightly earlier pickup and tee time. Greens not great but playing the Med and Forest nines it past in part a seaside course and was certainly more open and less intense than the previous courses – more like ‘holiday golf’ as Sean confirmed.
I liked it despite the greens being a tad ropey along the sea holes. Similar to a few others, the course had recently scarified its fairways for better growth. Jaggs had broken JC’s hold on the tour lead and extended it to 9pts at the end of the day. Quote of the day was from Jaggsy about Graham’s impressive birdie on one of latter long par3’s, “2 for nett one are you having a ‘fing laugh”.
Mr Loveless was a new man after a bit of a back nine collapse the day before and comes in with a solid overall win on the day. Understandable with some of the greens, JC’s putter let him down a bit as Jaggsy’s lead opened up to 9pts going into last round. Group1 was confirmed as Jaggsy, me Johnny and Richie… who just pipped a determined Mr Lovely into 4th.
Day 6 – The National GC
Yet another day of heat, probably felt to be the stickiest given the lack of wind in the tight winding treelined fairways of The National. Probably my favourite course of the tour, the National is the oldest in the area and felt similar to the The Old course in Vilamoura. More mature trees around the clubhouse and course, it had a more relaxed feel about it but was a tight, treelined par73 with short and tricky par4s, with some funky par5s.
Going out in Tour order, first fourball of headed put down the tight winding par5 first and we were off. Some great holes, one par5 stood out needing a 5 or 6iron to tee off and ending with a mid iron into an elevated green cut into a hill. This was followed by a long uphill narrow par5 with water and reeds all along the left side. I managed to nick the day with 31 and whilst I chipped away at Jaggsy’s lead, Mattie held on with some solid final putts to secure the tour win.
Kudos to Jaggsy who was finally pleased to hand over the sh*t emoji keyring for last place on the previous Tour, all agreed Matt was a thoroughly deserved winner of the (Roasted) Turkey tour 2018.
Firstly to tour organiser, the ever placid, calm and even tempered Mr Mark Wheddon. Seriously, a top job Winkle, thank you from us all for your hard work in getting us together and sorted.
Secondly, big thanks to Sean and Mattie Strong. Sean kept all scores for the week and managed handicap/slope indexes on each day. Mattie was our sturdy whip-man, making the week smooth for all of us settling bills and handing out tips.
All three put in sterling work to ensure we had a cracking week.
And the next tour is….?
If anyone is interested here are the final placings for the tour.
Blue column is the ‘best 3 rounds’ competition, won by the clear winner Jaggsy.
At the risk of getting a whack or similar abuse from the man, it wasn’t Strongbow’s best golfing week but he plugged away in the face of some hard golf… here is our man finding a solution to an errant drive with the trusty putter “clearly the best option”.