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.
This is a truly stunning looking golf course but in my opinion is set up too tough for the average golfer. We played it in 25 to 30 mph winds and being frank every shot was terrifying !
The prevailing wind I believe means the majority of the holes have a side wind and bearing in mind if you stray more than a few yards off the fairway your ball is lost in 3 feet of hay, this does not represent what enjoyable golf is about to me.
The layout and scenery are definitely worth a visit and to make such a stunning course is a real achievement , but be sure to keep an eye on the wind conditions and if its a windy day prepare yourself for a beating from the course and take plenty of balls.
This is a golf course. Well obviously, but this is an outstandingly good golf course and I'd love to see how it would rank (and be in Open rota consideration?!) if it wasn't named and owned by Mr Trump.
A very expensive round, but at all phases you are treated like royalty. I checked in and was greeted by name, they were clearly expecting me, and provided with course guide, tees, ball marker (quite standard for the quality of course granted). I was guided to the practice facilities - a grass driving range with a barrel of balls (complimentary of course) before heading over to the short game area which prewarned me of what was to come. Multiple monster greens with large tiers and subtle breaks, false fronts, run-offs, humps and swales - your short game was going to be tested!
Having introduced myself to the starter, he asked whether I'd like to tee off 15 mins early in order to go out in front of a 4-ball which was exceptionally considerate. He guided me to the correct tee box (of which there are 5 to choose from!), gave some helpful advice for the round, advised me to go and hit a ball from the back tees on 14 & 18 (the highest points on the course with stunning views and daunting carries to even make the fairway) and as a 1-ball on a Saturday morning, offered me to play two balls if I wanted, however one ball was enough for me.
The first hole really prepares you for the test of whats to come. From the tee, the fairway looks scant and you have to rely on the course guide to find it (a familiar theme), although the fairways are wider once you get to them. To the sides of the fairways are enormous dunes, Martin Hawtree has done an outstanding job routing the course between these and if your ball finds them, it's time to hit another. You aren't finding it. By the time you work your way up to the green, you are greeted with what you saw on the practice grounds, a large green complex with lots of run off zones. Thankfully my wedge hit the green, although slightly pulled leaving a putt down a tier so inevitably walked off with a 3 putt bogey.
Without going into a hole by hole description, the remainder of the front nine travels in and out of the dunes spectacularly and each provides a very different challenge to what has gone before. What I did find however was that this was a very fair course - it rewarded good shots and only punished the poor shots.
By the time I got to 14, my mind was already blown away and I'd fallen in love with the course, however walking up to the back tees and I've never seen a view like it. A massively elevated tee, looking down at a narrow fairway, probably 250 yards away and with views over the whole estate. This would make quite a spectacle for the professional game.
The weakness of Trump is probably holes 15,16&17, and 18 is definitely a love/hate hole. A long par 5 with 18 bunkers on it. It certainly isn't my favourite hole, but I'd enjoyed the course so much I could forgive the slightly forced nature.
Trump International really is a fantastic course on the most beautiful plot of land. It is definitely a lot less subtle than the outstanding Royal Aberdeen up the road and definitely does feel a bit American in places (green complexes and the general grandeur), however if you can forgive it for this (and you should), you will find yourself with a round you will never forget.
Forget the name. It’s just a spectacular golf course. Simply majestic.
The fairways are immaculate, the greens have numerous breaks (although slower than I expected), the rough kills anything off track and it doesn’t often give you an easy miss from the tee. Tricky, fabulous, millionaire golf. Get a caddy!!!
An experience I would recommend to everybody who wants to be involved in a true championship golfing experience.
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.