Final preparations being made on new holes at Samsun Golf Club in Turkey

  • Lovely Golf Course

    This semi-blind, bunkerless par three hole is a a tribute to The Dell at Lahinch Golf Club

  • Lovely Golf Course

    A mosque and its minaret frame the eighth green

  • Lovely Golf Course

    The course is located close to the city of Samsun on Turkey’s Black Sea coast

Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

The final preparations are being made at Samsun Golf Club in Turkey as it prepares to unveil nine new holes.

Designed by Kevin Ramsey of Golfplan, the new holes will act as the back nine at Samsun, where the existing nine holes opened in 2016.

Samsun Golf Club lies on Turkey’s northern coastline, with the course being built on a 135-acre parcel of land reclaimed from the adjacent Black Sea. This gives the course a distinctly links feel.

One highlight of the new holes is a short, semi-blind, bunkerless par-three hole, which has been inspired by The Dell at Lahinch Golf Club in County Clare, Ireland.

The new holes are set to open next summer, and the 18 holes at Samsun GC will collectively play to a length of 6,800 yards.

“This has challenged us, as designers, because now we have some of the best young golfers in Turkey playing this course – but this remains an emerging golf market,” said Ramsey. “We’ve worked through this, and I should give some credit here to one of our shapers, Adam Kelland, who works out of George, South Africa. He has a lot of links experience. This is all reclaimed land that we were able to sculpt into just the landforms we wanted. Adam did a great job of implementing the evolving plans while adding that aspect of links quirkiness I was looking for.”

The public will be able to play the course once it opens, helping a new wave of players potentially learn the game of golf in Turkey.

Ramsey said: “If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the dozens of emerging golf nations where we’ve worked over the course of decades, it’s this: It’s not enough to merely design and build golf courses. We’re obliged to build native golfing populations, as well, and that requires public golf.”

Golfplan and Kevin Ramsey are also working on a new course in the nearby country of Georgia. The nine-hole Tabori Hill GC course is being built on a site overlooking the Georgian capital city, Tbilisi.

Grassing is set to begin in spring next year, with an opening date scheduled for late 2018.

“Here again, it’s about creating a facility that will help teach the people of Georgia how to play the game, in addition to being a resource for tourism,” Ramsey said. “That said, I can honestly say I’ve not seen a golf setting anything like this one, anywhere. The views from the course down to the city are remarkable – something we were sure to accentuate when we routed holes like one, two, eight and nine. But get this: Golfers will literally access the resort from the middle of downtown Tbilisi, by cable car. An Austrian company is building that system as we speak."

Golf International, based in Istanbul, Turkey, is leading the project management of both the Samsun and Tabori Hills project.  

“We have to be very careful on what is a sensitive site,” said Ramsey. “It’s rocky up there, with lots of dwarf pines. Only 90,000 cubic metres of dirt will be moved, a small number even for nine holes. We’re clearing as few trees as possible, to avoid unnecessary erosion, and we have to get the grading just right. At the same time, this approach has resulted in a course that sits beautifully on the site and really ties into the natural setting