x0x GOLF IN TURKEY
By Halim Ermis
The game of golf is thought to have originated in the 15th century on
the rolling grassy moorlands of Scotland, but today it has become
popular all over the world, not only for the enjoyment of actual play,
but as a source of exercise, socialising, and prestige. When to this
is added its environmentally friendly character, golf might aptly be
described as a green way of life. In recent years, golf has also
become a tourism sector in its own right. Can any other sport lay
claim to such a diversity of qualities?
The tranquil green landscape of a golf course stretching out beneath a
blue sky, with small lakes filled with fish and clumps of trees is
like a scene out of paradise created by human hand. After the tense
and stressful bustle of the day, a game of golf is the perfect way to
wind down. Chatting to spouse and friends as you wander across the
grass, the harmonious sound of birds singing in the background, and
glimpses of squirrels amongst the trees are a pleasure in itself.
Then when the game is over you can sip a drink in the bar and relax.
With such delights on offer it is no surprise that there are around
100 million golfers around the world, both professional and amateur.
The country with the highest number of golfers is the United States,
and other countries where golf is widely played include Japan,
Britain, and Australia.
The history of golf in Turkey goes back to 1895, when Istanbul Golf
Club was founded. Its members played on a 12 hole golf course at
Okmeydani until the end of 1914. The Bosphorus Golf Club situated near
Bebek was established in 1911 but closed down in 1923. In 1920
Istanbul Golf Club opened a new course at Maslak, and in 1922
increased the number of holes to 18 and built a clubhouse. In 1952 the
club was licensed with the Department of Physical Education and placed
under the auspices of the Tennis Federation. In 1972 part of the land
was nationalised when the new War Academies Command was built, and the
course was reduced to nine holes.
Istanbul Golf Club remains one of the oldest in the world, and hosts a
number of tournaments. A major turning point in Turkish golf was the
establishment of the Turkish Golf Federation in 1996. The federation
began organising major golf tournaments which turned the attention of
the golfing world onto Turkey.
With its beautiful scenery, mild climate in the coastal regions,
particularly in the south of the country, and golf courses of
international standard, Turkey has quickly become a popular
destination for golfers. In Silivri just west of Istanbul is Klassis
Golf and Country Club, which offers a range of activities for all
members of the family in addition to golf. Kemer Golf and Country
Club's 18 hole course is a favourite with Istanbul golfers.
At Belek on Turkey's Mediterranean coast near Antalya the National
Golf Club, Gloria Golf Club, Tat Beach Golf Club, and Nobilis Golf
Club courses are among the best in Europe, and international
tournaments are held there every year.
For those readers not yet familiar with the game, I will outline the
main points briefly. A standard golf course consists of 18 holes, and
the aim is for the player to hit his ball in order into each hole
using as few strokes as possible.
In the case of the small nine-hole course, players make a double
circuit. Each 'hole' consists of a flat starting point called the tee,
a strip known as the fairway, and a smooth putting green of closely
cropped grass where the actual hole measuring 108 mm is situated.
The hole is marked by a flag visible from a considerable way off, and
the distance between the tee and the hole varies from 100 to 500
metres. The course also includes obstacles, such as the long unmown
grass beyond the fairway known as the rough, trees, and hollows known
as bunkers filled with sand.
The two forms of competition in golf are medal play and match play.
The former is based upon the total number of strokes used by players
to complete the game, those with the lowest number being the winners.
In match play, on the other hand, the player who reaches a hole in the
lowest number of strokes takes that hole, and the winner is the player
with the greatest number of holes. If two players take a hole in the
same number of strokes half a hole is counted for each.
To ensure that the process of learning golf is both satisfying and
enjoyable, it is essential to attend a course or take private lessons.
Consult the instructor before purchasing your equipment, so that you
get the clubs which are best suited to you and help you to get along
quickly as a learner. Golf clubs are not cheap, but the right kind of
good quality equipment is worth every penny. You may not find golf
easy at first, but with patience you will soon find yourself
Practice makes perfect, and once you stop consciously controlling your
body, you will relax and improvement will be quicker. A sense of
humour is a useful aid in avoiding learner frustration.
And one last piece of advice: read all the books you can find about
golf, watch films about golf, and talk about golf. The more you know
the more you will understand and love this fascinating and
* Halim Ermis is a journalist.