Looking back on a rewarding trip to Turkey

Both Gary and Stan made the trip, Gary was attending the KPMG Golf Business Forum being held at the beach resort of Belek on Turkey’s South Coast and Stan was there to meet up with Annika Sorenstam for a site visit to Annika’s new 18-hole project, Olivion Golf Resort. The developer Belek Emlak ve Ticaret, will be creating the first golf course in this region with freehold residential units available for sale. The Olivion development will also include a boutique hotel and sports academy.

Turkey has fast become one of the most popular golfing holiday destinations in Europe and Belek is one of the centres of Turkey’s tourism industry. Olivion is located just outside the Belek resort and is approximately 45 minutes from Antalya international airport. The site is a mixture of agricultural land and olive groves that rise to form a hilly and rolling landscape. The design focus is to incorporate the olive trees and create environmental wetland areas into the new golf course. Annika, Stan and the Management Team spent several hours walking the site and discussing the course strategy, bunker placement and green positions.

Regarded as one of the greatest ever female golfers, Annika is able to draw from over her 15 years career playing on the worlds greatest golf courses. Combined with Stan’s design experience which includes the acclaimed PGA Golf de Catalunya, Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, The Montgomerie at Carton House and The Faldo Course at Sporting Club Berlin, Olivion is destined to be one of the top golfing experiences in Turkey. Annika and Stan have previously worked together on another of Annika’s golf course projects at Euphoria Golf and Hydro in South Africa. Opened in 2008 Euphoria is already rated as one of South Africa’s finest courses.

Gary represented EGD at the KPMG Golf Business Forum. The forum was attended by over 300 industry professionals who were there to discuss the latest trends in the golf business, amongst those speaking was former Open champion Greg Norman. Attending the conference on Friday morning Annika was awarded the Golf Entrepreneur of the Year Award in recognition of her commitment to the game and her ability to expand the Annika brand into new areas of business.

The forum was brought to a close with an afternoon golf competition and barbeque held at the EGD designed Montgomerie Course at Papillon Golf Club. The event was a big success and was a good opportunity for Gary, having designed the course with Colin Montgomerie, to catch up with a lot of friends and colleagues that had been involved in the construction of the golf course.

EGD’s designer Stan Eby (left), Annika Sorenstam and the golf management team visit the new 18-hole project, the Olivion Golf Resort, in Belek, Turkey.

Olivion Resort, near Belek, Turkey

We’ve been very lazy about posting blogs since the start of the year, so apologies to any of you who have checked in from time to time and found nothing new here. We’ve been busy, but somehow much of what we’ve been busy with is not blog material, at least for the time-being.

Anyway, Stan and I are in Turkey at the moment, with an ever-increasing design team, working on the Olivion Resort, near Belek. We had a pretty full-on day yesterday on site and then in a late afternoon workshop. The design team, which includes John Goldwyn and Lisya Sullam from WATG and Mike Wood from GEO, had collectively presented a draft master plan to the clients during meetings in London last month and this was their opportunity to provide feedback. What struck me was the way they approached this process.

There were a number of issues that, potentially, had quite significant impact to the master plan. We’ve all been in meetings where a client would have said something like “I don’t want it to be like this, I want it to be like that – go and do that” and sent the design team away simply to carry out his requirements. That’s fine, but it doesn’t leave any room for the design team to get creative. But yesterday the clients instead said things like “we think there is an issue here (for instance, they were concerned with the position of the proposed access road into the project) – what can we do to fix it?.” That’s a completely different proposition, allowing the design team the ability to creatively come up with a solution that meets the client’s concerns.

In the end, it’s two ways of asking the same thing, but invariably the solution will be better if the design team are given the opportunity to use their skills to come up with the best response rather than a response that just meets the client’s demand.

Stan Eby, Haluk Kaya and John Goldwyn

Hot in Istanbul

Spending two days stuck in a hotel reviewing project plans with investors, master planners, financial analysts and other consultants is part of the job, but not always the most fun way to spend time. But, when that hotel is in Istanbul, on the bank of the Bosphorus, and the project team just happens to be red hot, then there are certain benefits.

Istanbul is one of the most vibrant cities in Europe although, technically, less than half of it is actually in Europe – the city itself straddles the divide between east and west, between Europe and Asia. As a result, the mix of culture, food, people and architecture makes for an amazing experience every time. The weather this week was cold and rainy, which meant that we weren’t really missing anything during our daily meetings, but we did get out a little at night.

If you need a great business hotel in Istanbul, then try the Radission Bosphorus in the Ortokay district – very modern, very comfortable and perfectly located. And if you like live music, there’s a great Jazz club right next door.

  • Istanbul - The view from the Hotel
  • Istanbul - This bridge is the link between Europe and Asia

So Sad to be Leaving Turkey

When asked what makes a great project most golf architects would quickly say it’s having a great site. While this is true its only part of the equation, almost as important is the people. Without good people a great site will never reach its full potential. Fortunately for me I was given the chance to work on a project that was blessed with both.

On the first of September The Montgomerie Course at Papillon Golf Club opened its doors for a select number of golfers to experience the course prior to the course being overseeded at the end of month and the official opening ceremony in October. This marks the end of a two and half years of hard work, a awful lot of sweat and even some tears (usually at Golf Managers very bad jokes!) and although this was a very proud day for all involved it was also tinged with a little sadness. The opening of the course effectively draws to a close my involvement on what has been a hugely enjoyable project and also ends my fortnightly trip to the kebab shop in downtown Belek. As with any project it has had its fair share of stressful days and even the odd heated word but ultimately everything was always forgotten over a cold beer after work. As I said at the beginning it’s often the people that make the project and that has never been more true than in Turkey regarding all my new friends at Papillon and Golf Med.