Occupying a three-mile stretch of North Sea coastline between Murcar Links and Cruden Bay, Trump International Golf Links is the latest American-inspired, high profile course to open in Scotland since the start of the new millennium.
Like Renaissance Club, Castle Stuart and Machrihanish Dunes, ownership of the course lies on the US side of the Atlantic and its proprietor took seven long years to get golfers onto the first tee as he had to overcome a series of objections that were made to siting the fairways within a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
But overcome the protestations of the environmentalists and landowners is exactly what he did and one of the wisest moves that Trump made early on was to promote respected architect Martin Hawtree from “links consultant” to lead designer because his vast experience – particularly in working on Open courses for the R&A – would prove invaluable when it came to routing holes around the dramatic dunes on the Menie Estate.
Apart from the 229-yard par three 13th, all holes are laid out in a north-south direction close to the shoreline and some have criticised this orientation as being somewhat uninspired. However, if the most exciting topography is to be found between the dune systems that run naturally along the coast then why would anyone dream of routing the fairways any other way?
As you might expect at any Trump golf facility, everything here is top spec for a links: bent and fescue grass greens (that are sensibly contoured), fully revetted bunkers (of which there are eighteen on the 18th), at least five tee boxes on every hole (holes 3 and 4 have seven), and an astonishing ten acres of grass pathways to convey golfers from one green to the next tee position – all that and not a cart path in sight.During the official opening ceremony of the course on 10th July 2012 (click here for details), PGA and European Tour officials spoke of Trump International Golf Links as a venue worthy of major professional golf competitions in the future. It will be interesting to see what comes its way in the years ahead.
One important point, make sure you choose the right tees to play from! We played in a pro am late in June and fortunately the organisers decided we would play the whites (still around 6500 yards). I suspect the fact we really enjoyed the was partially down to this factor. Apart from the first green being closed for play the course was absolutely immaculate. The layout can be intimidating from the tee with the narrow looking fairways lined with long grass which was mostly unplayable from. In fact it's actually more generous from the tee than it first appears. The dunes which the course is rooted around often gave the impression that you are the only people playing, true millionaires golf! Our group really enjoyed the par 3's all of which were tough and demanded extremely accurate tee shots. The 17th and 18th are a tough pair of finishing holes with both playing into the breeze the day we played. The view from the back tee on 18 is well worth the effort to climb too, I would love to see a professional tour event played at this course albeit with the name attached I doubt we will see it.
The short game practice area is fantastic and well worth your time to use as the course asks a lot of questions around the greens. While the staff were excellent and friendly the club house was a bit of a disappointment as you have no views of the course just scrubland. A real golfers course.
Stunning course. Underrated by many due to the name and (lack of) age. No weak holes, amazing views, perfect turf, interesting greens and run offs, distinct character.
Anyone who rates this course anything other than at least a 5 must have a strange view on what golf is. This place is stunning. On several of the holes we were left speechless by the views and how the holes were laid out in such an extraordinary way. Even the holes without the jaw dropping tee boxes were outstanding, there is not a duff hole on this course. The back 9 is probably the best 9 holes I’ve ever played (beats royal County Down in my opinion). It’s starts with the 10th which from the tee box looks fairly unassuming but as the hole progresses into the dunes it becomes extraordinary. Make the trip up to the black tees for the 11th and you’ll be treated to a great view of the back 9. We played both the white tees and black tees on this hole and I think it’s a better hole and not significantly harder off the blacks due to the elevation. The 12th and 13th give you par opportunities (the black tee on the 13th makes this a brute of a hole so be warned!) then you come to the 14th....wow. You MUST have a go from the black tees, again the elevation will help, not hinder. 15 and 16 are a welcome relief from the dunes and provide scoring opportunities before the very tough 17th. I’m not sure how to describe the 18th, any of the tee boxes make it a brute and you have to think you’re way up the fairway but if you’re long and straight par is possible and surely one of the best holes in golf. The front 9 is also stunning (the 3rd is a great par 3). To give this some balance this is why I didn’t score it a 6.....no course marshal, At times it was slow and it amazed me how many hackers were out there thinking they could play the course, it is very easy to lose balls on every hole so unless you’re a sub 18 handicapper and playing well it can make for a very long day, a marshal would help speed things along and avoid people lining up a putt for a 10! The tee boxes are also a bit confusing as there are so many of them. Better signage would help, as would a hole map on every tee box. The practice facilities were great as was the very unassuming club house. Friendly staff and nice food not stupidly priced. I’d love to play this course with a tour pro, how anyone could break par here off the black tees would be a great watch. I’ve played many great courses (wentworth, County Down, sunningdale, birkdale, Swinley, Loch Lomond, Queenwood etc) but none of them left me speechless like this place.
The politics that go with the name of this course is one of the reasons it is not rating even higher than it should be.
This course is unbelievable, no weak holes. Conditioning is second to none. Have been lucky enough to play this course a couple of times. It is definitely a challenging course especially if the wind gets up. I feel it is a course that gets easier the more you play it as the fairways are a lot bigger than they appear when you are teeing off. The course does require you to carry some drives quite a long way depending what tees you are playing from, so if you are not a big hitter I would recommend playing one of the forward tees to make it more enjoyable for yourself, as it you hit your ball into the thick rough then you will struggle to find it.
I would love to see a Pro event played here as it would be exciting to see how they got on. I have been lucky enough to play it on a flat calm day and the course can be there to be attacked.
The practice facilities here are unreal, you could really spend all day there at the range, short game area or the massive practice putting green.
If you are visiting this course then there are plenty of opens played here throughout the year and I would recommend trying to enter one of these as you will get it a lot cheaper.
This is a must play Course. Some truly outstanding holes, right from the opening hole through to the last. Played it in a Senior Open off the Green Tees which made it a little short and didn't require you to be a bomber off the tee, would have preferred to be one tee box back which would have stretched my game off the tee a little more. Green complexes were very good and lag putting proved difficult if on the wrong tier. Fairway turf was really good to strike a ball off. Greens ran true even in a wet October.
Immediately went to No.1 on my list of courses played.
The attention to detail here at Trump Aberdeen is amazing. The turf on the walkways is as good as any course turf in all of Scotland. The course is very special. The fairways are more generous than they appear. This is just a magnificent course. I would but offer one change if allowed. Why place 18 bunkers on the 18th hole. Otherwise the bunker placements are very good. Conditions perfect. Green contours/complexes excellent. An absolute gem amongst a couple other stellar courses near by. Visit soon and enjoy special hospitality and a premier place.
Trump International Golf Links is the most difficult course to appraise I’ve ever played. The location, condition and facilities are absolutely perfect - you know this is a quality facility the moment you drive on to the property and the anticipation starts to build.
The course routing, hole design and green complexes, would place TIGL easily in the 5.5 - 6.0 ball category but, and it’s a pretty big but, the very best courses have a playability that appeals to all standards of golfer. Let me clarify. The dunes that create the aesthetics of a great links course are there in abundance at TIGL but they’re not in play; they simply frame the holes. The excessive planting of non-indigenous dune grasses has created an environment where any ball that doesn’t land on the relatively tight fairways is instantly lost. I always thought the dunes on links golf courses are supposed to be a hazard not a penalty? The result is a visually stunning but ultimately terrifying experience for all but the very best players. Throw in the ubiquitous 20-30 mph winds and finding your target becomes a lottery at times.
Royal Aberdeen is only 5 miles down the coast and it exemplifies every other major links course I’ve played around the British Isles - the dune complex’s have a rough that gives the average golfer not only a good chance of finding errant shots but also getting back into play and continuing the hole. Ultimately this game is designed to be fun, is it not?
I don’t even want to moan too much about the lengthy treks from green to tee - this is a modern course after all and the designer has no choice but to accommodate the prodigious distances the pro’s hit the ball but it’s almost a mile difference from the back tees to the whites we played, and you have to trudge every yard of it.
In conclusion, this is a course you must play if, like me, you want to test yourself on the very best layouts this game can offer, and you certainly won’t be disappointed by the views this beautiful course offers. Unfortunately it’s 1 venue you probably won’t be rushing back to.
Plenty of people do want to rush back. Fairways are more generous than they initially look.
Trump Aberdeen Occupying a 3 mile stretch of coastline to the North of Aberdeen. We were fortunate in that there was only a 15mph wind complementing the glorious sunshine. Tee after tee provides unbelievable panoramic views of the beachline and glimpses of what awaits. Grass pathways to die for to and from tees and greens, the best I have ever seen. The course laid out on an awesome topography with huge gigantic natural is a real success for architect the Martin Hawtree who's work I love, but this has to be his finest hour. Green complexes huge and undulating provide many options, surfaces and fringes are manicured as the rest of the course to a truly outstanding atandard, a credit to the 80 (not a typo) green staff.The golf course itself follows a classic pattern of two out-and-back loops of nine holes. All 18 holes thread engagingly through the dunes, views of the sea and coastline, plunging there into secluded valleys. There is nothing missing and the layout does not have any weak holes, providing a dramatic and invigorating links. It's hard to pic a favourite but if pushed I would go for the 10th followed closely by the 650 yard 18th a monster. @tomwatson08 nearly had another hole in one at the 16th with his ball pitching at the flag but unfortunately rebounding out, witnessed by a handful of the greens staff. Thank you to Liam for your company, fabulous golf for someone only playing a couple of years keep it up mate look forward to seeing you at Hillside soon.
So in summary, very often courses do not quite live up to the hype, but Trump Aberdeen has been undersold in all the press and reviews in my opinion. I have now played over 500 courses including over 200 highly rated in many rankings and this now goes to No1. Expensive green fee but worth it for any golfer wanting a special experience. The pictures do not do the course justice, highlight roll on my stories have more of each hole.
Visually, the most impressive course I’ve ever played. It is absolutely incredible. Is the 14th the best hole in golf?
My only minor criticism would be that I felt the 1st and the 4th were quite similar. 15 is probably the dullest hole on the course. And 18, whilst a bit of a novelty, is far, far, far too long.
Apart from that though I absolutely loved it and think it is a bit underrated when I look at some other courses in the top 10
Immaculate course and breathtaking views from many holes. Nothing traditional or spiritual about a trip here so it stands in stark contrast to the other great courses in the UK&I and even to Trump Turnberry. To me it is like Kingsbarns in that it is a high service, visually impressive place to play but doesn't possess the feel and intangibles that typically international visitors seek from their golfing experience in Scotland. For people in the region or spending a couple of days in Aberdeen, its indeed a very good experience that wont disappoint but its hard to justify a journey to this corner of the world to play this one.