Belek to host female golf stars for sixth time
A golfer hits a shot on the 18th hole of the National course. The National, the host for the LET Turkey leg, also runs a charity program for future golfers (inset).National Golf Club in Turkey’s top golf destination Belek will be hosting professional female golfers from around the world for the sixth time when Turkish Airlines Ladies Open tees off on May 8.
The player list for the Turkey leg of the Ladies European Tour (LET) includes 126 golfers from 32 countries who will vie for the title in one of the most challenging courses on the tour schedule.
Bülent Göktuna, the Board Chairman of the National Golf Club and the event’s promoter Mineks International, recently told a group of invited journalists that organizing international tournaments has put Belek on the golfing map.
“We are proud to be hosting the Turkey leg of a prestigious tournament such as LET,” he said. “We have been struggling to attract big spender tourists to Turkey, and golf tourism is a great tool for this purpose. And Belek will be a better known destination with such major organizations.”
Göktuna noted that this year’s event will be broadcast live on the Golf Channel, greatly contributing to promoting Belek.
As the organizers deal with off the course problems, top players will be competing for four days for a total prize fund of 250,000 euros. The entry list for the tournament include British Laura Davies, whose career earnings make her one of the world’s top paid women in sports with $8.7 on the LPGA and 4 million euros on the LET.
Two other great professional players of the recent years, Sophie Gustafson of Sweden and Trish Johnson of Britain, will also join in vying for the title.
Past winners will also be at National to claim another trophy, last year’s winner Lee Anne Pace of South Africa, Dutch Christel Boeljon who clinched back to back titles in 2011 and 2012 and 2012 champion Melissa Reid of Britain.
Another interesting player to watch on the course will be Swedish player Carin Koch, who was appointed on April 10 as the captain of the European Solheim Cup team that will attempt to secure a third straight victory against the United States in the 2015 match at Golf Club St. Leon-Rot in Germany.
Göktuna noted the National Golf Club, which opened in 1994 as the first golf club in Belek, also does its best to support golf as a sport in Turkey. The club has a junior academy, which brings together 60 children aged between seven and 18 who usually come from underprivileged families from the villages in the region, including 13 kids from the local orphanage.
The children not only learn how to play golf, under head coach Bekir Kara who also started golf at the National, but they also take English classes, courses on manners, their diet is controlled by a dietician and have medical check-ups twice a year.
Göktuna said the club has also recently launched a program to work with the families to make sure that the children receive the best care possible.
Turkish golf is still far from having an international star, but hopefully, one of these kids will one day tee off with the biggest stars.