ISTANBUL - Amateur golfers and seasoned professionals will tee off side-by-side in Belek next weekend, as 16 teams from across Great Britain will be competing for the 5,000-pound PGA National Pro-Am Championship at the Antalya Golf Club. Tournament organizers express their happiness to be ’coming to Turkey again’

Europe’s biggest pro-am golf tournament will be visiting Turkey’s up and coming golf center Belek for the second year next week.

The 36-hole final of the PGA National Pro-Am Championship will be held at the Antalya Golf Club’s PGA Sultan Course on Dec. 2-3. The course is one of the 14 courses in Belek, which was chosen as Europe's golf destination in Europe this year by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators.

16 teams from across Great Britain will be competing over the course with 5,000 pounds up for grabs for the winning professional player.

PGA pro-am tournaments, in which a professional player teams up with an amateur player, help strengthen the relationship between the club professional and amateur. It is an opportunity for the amateur to play with a top class player while the pro can also build relationships with his amateur partner and club.

In the case of the PGA National Pro-Am Championship, it is Europe's largest pro-am and gives both pro and amateur the chance to experience tournament golf at the very highest level in an international setting and on a world-class golf course. For the pro it is an opportunity to compete for a big prize fund while invariably for the amateur it is a once in a life-time golfing experience that few amateurs are lucky enough to enjoy.Nathaniel Sylvester, the Professional Golfers' Association Head of Media, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review by e-mail the organization was very happy to be coming to Turkey again.

"The branding of the PGA Sultan Course at Antalya Golf Club presented a marvelous opportunity to take the National Pro-Am Championship to Turkey, which is one of the flourishing golf destinations in Europe," she said. "In previous years, the final has been played in countries like Spain and Portugal and as golf's popularity continues to grow in Turkey, the PGA is delighted to raise the profile of the sport by taking one of its most prestigious finals to the region."

Impressive courses

Sylvester also praised the facilities. "Antalya Golf Club and the Sirene Resort Hotel are very impressive and all of the players who competed last year were complimentary of the venue and course. They are all happy to be back."

With Turkey's reputation continuing to grow, the PGA would consider to move more international tournaments to the country if the right opportunity presented itself, she added.

In Turkey, golf is mostly considered as a tourism opportunity rather than a sport. The PGA will do its part to promote the sport here, Sylvester said. "The PGA, through its membership of the PGAs of Europe, is committed to growing and promoting the game across Europe, including Turkey," the head of media said. "Through its association with Antalya Golf Club and the PGA Sultan Course, the PGA is also keen to support any local initiatives that encourage people to take up the sport."

The current global economic crisis has hit all sectors of the economy and sport, and golf is no exception. Sylvester said golf economy was still vital. "The global economic problems present challenges for all businesses, but golf across Europe remains an important part of the economy worth $18billion and the PGA and its 7,500 members are a key part of that," Sylvester said.