Southern Turkey's Belek may be the first place that comes to mind when talking about golf in Turkey but it facilities mainly serve tourists. Some 20 golf courses built side by side, close proximity to the airport, a climate suitable for golf all year long, the quality of services and most importantly no membership requirements make it a popular destination. Unlike Belek, membership is necessary if you want to play golf in other cities, like Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Bodrum.
However, northern Turkey's Samsun has changed that fact by operating Turkey's first public golf course since July 15, 2016. To popularize the sport, Samsun Metropolitan Municipality has built the world's first golf course on reclaimed land.
Built on 300 decares of reclaimed land on the city's Atakum coast, it initially opened as a nine-hole course. It was later expanded to 650 decares to accommodate 18 holes.
Golf course architect Kevin Ramsey oversaw the project, which followed US Golf Association (USGA) standards. Once completed, the course will likely host this year's Turkcell Golf Tournament.
Samsun Golf Club Director Hamza Sayın said nearly 2,000 people have learned how to play golf at the course since it opened in 2016.
"People from Samsun as well as neighboring cities come to play here. Following its success, other municipalities in the region are also evaluating if they can build similar golf courses," he said.
Besides regular golfers, the golf course in Samsun has also attracted a lot of newcomers which is great news for Turkish golf.