The Takeaway: Visually, Trump's course in Aberdeen has few rivals with massive dunes, elevated tees, and plenty of looks at the ocean. The wide fairways significantly boost the playability of the course, but that is counteracted by thick, ball devouring marram grass outside the fairways along with elevated greens featuring steep slopes that love to repel shots. The course has several great holes but also feels a bit too contrived to reach elite status. Grade A-
Designer: Martin Hawtree in 2012
Cost: £185.00 - £235.00 (Caddies available for £50 plus gratuity) Click for current rates
Phone Number: +44 (0) 1358 74 33 00
Course Website: Official Website - Visit Trump International Golf Links Scotland's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Menie Park Lodge, Menie Estate, Balmedie, Aberdeenshire, UK
Accolades: Ranked 10th in Scotland by Golf Course Gurus.
What to Expect: Few courses have opened up with more hype, anticipation, and controversy in the 21st century than the Donald's track north of Aberdeen, Scotland. Set among some of the largest seaside dunes you'll ever encounter, Trump Scotland has a dramatic setting that Martin Hawtree capitalized on with numerous elevated tees which in turn delivers perhaps the most scenic golfing experience in Scotland. The course tips out as one of the longest courses in the UK which is partially a product of Trump's desire to host an Open one day; something that likely won't happen. Comparisons to Trump's Doonbeg golf course in Ireland are natural as the setting and vistas have similarities with marram grass covered dunes framing the holes and the ocean setting one of the property boundaries. The fairways are wide which is a welcome feature considering the often windy conditions and penalty associated with leaving the short grass. From a conditioning perspective, the course is kept in great shape with a sizable crew working hard to make it one of the better turf experiences in Scotland. Individually there are several noteworthy holes at Trump Scotland and plenty of opportunities to use your camera, but the overall flow of the routing is clunky due to the excessive number of hikes to reach the back tees and overall distances covered from the previous green to the next tee. The height and thickness of the marram provides a nice contrast visually, but is brutal from a playability perspective. Hitting a ball outside the fairway is a sure fire way to require a reload since finding your Pro V1 will be an adventure worthy of a jungle safari guide's assistance. In addition, the walking paths are carved through the marram grass covered dunes and the plethora of tee boxes results in a labyrinth of paths to pick from to get to the correct. While there are signs with arrows guiding you where to go, they aren't always accurate since the tee markers are adjusted daily. Perhaps the most challenging feature at Trump's Aberdeen course is around the greens where the putting surfaces are often elevated and feature sloping edges with short grass which results in a lot of approach shots being repelled into a bunker or back down the fairway. So while the square footage of the greens is nicely sized, the effective landing area shrinks up pretty quick. While the front nine is commendable in its own right, the back nine is what most golfers will walk away remembering with holes 12-14 being particularly impressive and representing as one of the most inspiring three hole stretches in Scotland. The ascent up to the 17th green followed by the panoramic view from the back tee on #18 is flat out impressive and was clearly reserved for the end of the round intentionally. Ultimately I have mixed feelings about Trump Scotland. Visually the course is impressive, there is little argument against that and there are some holes I really enjoyed. The flip side is that the experience could be absolutely punishing in windy conditions, or if your driver is squirrely, and the walk feels more like work than enjoyment. I see Trump Scotland as one of those courses you want to experience once but may not make the itinerary for return visits to golf's homeland.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 14th Hole – 445 Yard Par 4
Best Par 3: 13th Hole – 229 Yards
Best Par 4: 12th Hole – 435 Yards
Best Par 5: 18th Hole – 651 Yards
Birdie Time: 7th Hole – 281 Yard Par 4
Bogey Beware: 8th Hole – 500 Yard Par 4