Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen is already being hailed as an instant classic. Here's why...
Very few courses to have opened over the last 50 years have garnered as much acclaim as Trump International Golf Links in Scotland, and even fewer have breached the top 15 of Golf Monthly’s Top biennial 100 UK & Ireland Courses rankings at the first time of asking.
All those familiar with Sunningdale’s Old course (13) and Waterville (15) will know how impressive a feat that is. And, with a brand new clubhouse and the course maturing beautifully, the only way is up for a resort that’s indisputably one of Scotland’s finest, despite only opening three years ago.
The course itself is an absolute treat, although that’s only one of the facets – albeit a significant one – of the Trump offering. The opulent clubhouse, impressive practice facilities and amenable atmosphere combine with the golf to provide an all-round experience you’ll struggle to match elsewhere.
It’s rare to be able to picture every single hole on a golf course months after playing it, but most who’ve taken on the stunning links near Aberdeen will be able to recall all of them vividly.
Dr Martin Hawtree, the man responsible for this creation, has forged a sublime layout that routes its way through towering dunes. It rises in parts to reveal majestic views of the North Sea coastline, while other holes play in secluded valleys inhabited by native vegetation. Trump Scotland’s variation is one of its greatest strengths.
Each hole comes equipped with six different tee markers – recognition that all golfers are welcome here. It’s not the ostentatious resort you might expect; in fact, it’s far from it. The bunkers have even been designed to challenge the stronger player while ensuring that weaker golfers aren’t punished excessively.
It’s also a layout that gives golfers decent aiming zones off the tee. If you stray into the heavy rough you’re in trouble, but there’s more than enough of the short stuff to aim for.
Again, the designers must be commended for creating a course that’s not excessively and unnecessarily difficult. In terms of routing, it’s not your standard out-and-back links, meaning half the holes on each nine play into the wind, and half downwind.
It’s far less demoralising than reaching the turn on a classic links layout and bracing yourself for the run for home with a gale blowing directly into your face!
Trump International Golf Links, as you might expect, has a higher-than-average green fee, but the unequivocal consensus is that is provides great value for money. It’s hard to think of a stand-out hole on the course, purely because they are all so good.
The par 3s are as good a set as anywhere in the UK, with the 3rd one of the most picturesque holes anywhere in the world. Unsurprisingly, the conditioning of the golf course is also exceptional.
In the words of Golf Monthly contributing editor and Top 100 senior panellist, Rob Smith: “This is an instant classic which pays its respects to the past while offering something quite new. I would unreservedly recommend Trump Scotland to anyone who loves golf.”
Away from the course, there’s plenty more to note. Trump himself was in Scotland earlier this year to unveil the resort’s new clubhouse. You won’t be surprised to learn that no expense has been spared, but it’s not over the top.
In fact, it’s relatively inconspicuous within the complex and the interior pays subtle tribute to Scotland, with wood panelling and tartans used throughout. It’s a great post-round retreat, without the stuffy, formal vibe many would expect from such a resort. The staff are friendly yet professional, laid-back but diligent.
The final piece of the Trump jigsaw is the practice facilities, which are truly outstanding. Even those who swear by the tea and bacon sandwich warm-up approach will be sorely tempted to make use of the facilities, and particularly the short-game area.
The roughly two-acre site is populated with small raised greens with run-off areas, some of which are surrounded by little pot bunkers. Crucially, the conditioning mirrors what you’ll find on the course.
It only seems like a matter of time until a tournament of significant stature is played at Trump International Golf Links. It’s nothing short of exceptional in a whole host of areas and it’s improving all the time.
But don’t just take our word for in. In fact, we’ll challenge you to find anyone who has anything other than glowing praise for this special Scottish resort.