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Turkey, of all places, was recently the center of the golf world. It even welcomed the world #1 amongst its ranks as the country hosted the European Tour’s Final Series event in the Race to Dubai. No disrespect intended to the Republic of Turkey, where soccer is the most popular sport, its just not considered a haven for golfers. But there are those that are trying to change that.

“It's great to be back in Turkey. Obviously beautiful weather, perfect conditions for golf. I think in general, great golfing destination,” noted Justin Rose, world #5. “Turkey wasn't on my radar as a golfing destination in terms of holiday golf and people trying to escape a harsh winter in Europe,” he added. His first visit the year before completely changed his perception. “It kind of reminds me about Spain and Portugal quite a lot,” Henrik Stenson chimed in. Lee Westwood agreed, “Yeah, reminds me a bit of that (Spain and Portugal). I'm sure they are trying to get into that holiday market and winter golf. Fantastic facilities down here, lots of golf courses and the hotels are great. So it's worth looking into I think if you're coming from Britain. I played in an eight-man event here last year, and I enjoyed it.”

While some might think golf is new to the country, it actually can be traced back to 1895 when the first golf course was built in Turkey. Its been a slow start for the game as another 100 hundred years went by before the next course started being built. That happens to be the time when Tiger Woods started making his name known in the golf world. Now almost 20 years and almost 20 courses later, Tiger Woods was in Turkey to play golf. In fact Woods was photographed hitting a tee shot on the Bosphorus Bridge, which links Europe to Asia!

“It's exciting for me as a player to have seen certain countries develop and get involved in the game of golf; Turkey being one of them, and the other one, as we have all seen is the impact China's had,” said the world #1. “I went there (China), what, 12 years ago for the first time and to see the amount of kids with clubs in their hands and the amount of kids with really good swings, it's just staggering. And Turkey is trying to do the same. I mean, you can't have this happen unless you get the government behind it, and we've seen it in certain countries like Sweden, they have done it.”

The Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism was the first time Turkey staged a European Tour event. It featured a strong field as six Major winners, including reigning US Open Champion Justin Rose of England and five former European Tour Number Ones competed. “Turkish Airlines are a good sponsor and they are obviously putting a lot of money in and deserve a good tournament and big field that they have got,” said former world #1, Lee Westwood. The Turkish Airlines cosponsors the event and it is also making a push in golf. For example, it is also the sponsor of a new amateur event – The Turkish Airlines World Golf Cup – that spanned 12 cities around the world, including Hudson, N.Y., in 2013. Next year, the tournament will expand to 24 cities worldwide. The 2013 Turkish Airlines World Golf Cup concluded at the same time as the Turkish Airlines Open, and the winner of the tournament partnered with Tiger Woods during the Pro-Am of the Turkish Airlines Open.

“Sponsoring world-class golf events was a simple decision since Turkish Airlines is a strong supporter of sports around the world,” said Alp Ozaman, Regional Marketing Manager for Turkish Airline, New York. “Turkish Airlines has sponsored the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open since 2010. In 2011, the airline sponsored the Open de Andalucía de Golf. In 2012, Turkish Airlines sponsored the first of its kind golf tournament in Turkey, the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final, with major golfers including Tiger Woods and Rory Mcllroy. Now, the airline sponsored the Turkish Airlines World Golf Cup Finals and the Turkish Airlines Open, which just wrapped up.

“Sports are very much ingrained in the culture of Turkish Airlines and that is because it brings people from all over the world together and knows no boundaries. Aside from sponsoring global golfing events, Turkish Airlines sponsors European football teams and basketball leagues, such as the Euroleague. The airline also counts among its global brand ambassador’s professional basketball player Kobe Bryant and soccer great Lionel Messi,” he continued.

“We realize that Turkey is not a very well-known destination for American golfers. First of all, we are trying to help put Turkish golf on the map for the American golfer. Turkish Ministry of Tourism has been working on promoting golf in Turkey recently and their efforts are starting to bear fruit,” Ozaman explained. “We also want to communicate the fact that Turkish Airlines is the perfect match for making that trip with its award-winning service and cuisine, world-class lounges and modern aircraft. We will try to increase our footprint on the American golf scene by making our Turkish Airlines Amateur Golf Tournament in New York a mainstay and increase the number of cities where we hold this event.”  

The Turkish Airlines Open by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism was a hit with the pros, especially Victor Dubuisson who beat Jamie Donaldson by two and Justin Rose and Tiger Woods by four shots. Donaldson also made a hole-in-one on the final day, which won him a million air miles for his efforts along with his second place earnings! The country along with Turkish Airlines is looking to make it a destination of choice amongst golfers worldwide. Its already received praise from some of the best in the game. Perhaps it’s worth checking out!