Course Review: Trump International Scotland
01 Mar 2014
see also: Trump International Golf Links, All Course Reviews

- Hole No. 3 (courtesy Trump International)
- Hole No. 3 (courtesy Trump International)

Trump International Golf Links Scotland, in conjunction with the great golf course architect Martin Hawtree and his team have created a links masterpiece in northeast of Scotland. This championship layout is eight miles north of Aberdeen, and easily accessible from the oil capital of Europe. 

The Aberdeenshire coastline contains a stretch of links golf courses of the highest quality anywhere on the planet. Donald Trump saw the topography of the Menie Estate, and realized the potential. Now, within the sand dunes of one of the most beautiful and dramatic coastlines in the world, lies what will surely be one of the best golf courses in the world.

I should make clear that the focus of this article is the golf course. There is political debate surrounding the development, but I leave that for others to deal with.

Access roads, an excellent ‘play it both ways’ north-south practice ground, a 3,000-acre putting green and superb temporary clubhouse will also await you. You can book online at the club's website. 

Challenging yet playable, this 7,423- yard par-72 layout offers a wonderful golf experience for everyone. With 107 tees, many holes offer tees where the one at the front plays around 100 yards shorter than from the back. When standing on various tees throughout the course, I thought from the perspective of the top pro, through to that of a mid-handicap golfer like myself, and came to the conclusion that if you manage your game well, you are sure to enjoy the game of your life, whatever your score.

You will find 94 traditional pot bunkers carefully positioned throughout the course, so bring your sand wedge!  The quality of the grass is outstanding.  Playing Trump International Golf Links Scotland will be four to five hours of walking on the highest quality carpet you can imagine.  No steep rubble-laden paths from tee to fairway here. Green surrounds have the same quality of turf you will find on the putting surface. The only difference is the cut. These expansive areas are four times the magnitude you would find on an average course.

One of my concerns prior to visiting was whether the dunes would swamp a golfer’s view of the coastline. Not a bit of it. They merely serve to enhance the visual experience. On many holes the views are stunning. The green on the par-3 third is so perfectly positioned beside the beach that you feel as if you are putting off it. The tees on the par-5 fourth even permit you splendid views back to Aberdeen. Another par-3, the sixth, visually provides sand dunes, heather, orchids and sea.

The 14th tees offer as dramatic a view across the Aberdeenshire coastline as you can imagine. The dunes slope beautifully into the fairway. When playing your tee shot here, do not be intimidated by what seems a tight landing area. John Bambury, Course Superintendant, assures me that the drive is deceivingly narrow. From there you can see northwards along the rugged coastline to Slains Castle, which dates back to the 16th century.

The 18th hole is very special indeed. Martin Hawtree has carefully positioned 18 bunkers from tee to green. The 18th encompasses aspects of each of the preceding 17 holes. This is something only a world-class golf course architecture company with 100 years of experience could pull off. Hawtree Limited has succeeded.

The green fees may raise some eyebrows, but when you consider the high level of service all of Donald Trump’s visitors get when they play one of his courses, you will find the investment well worth it. At current exchange rates you will pay approximately $235 for a weekday game, and $313 at the weekends. There is a 20 percent discount for those living in an AB postcode, but that will be of little worth to many readers I appreciate!

I shall now summarize by covering what I especially liked. Unlike many courses, the putting green is huge, so there is plenty of room to accommodate all. It also reflects precisely the green conditions you will find during your 18 holes. The driving range is open air. The same will therefore apply. Each nine is as challenging and enjoyable as the other. There is no easier or more difficult nine, something I hate when playing a course. 

Golf carts are not permitted, unless you have a documented physical condition which prevents you from walking the course. This is good, because it will afford you more opportunity to take in your experience. Caddies are available. I would always recommend one, for the same reasons I like the golf cart rule. As for signature holes? Many courses have one. The Menie Estate has plenty. The feeling you will have after a testing an exciting round here will stay in your golfing heart a very, very long time.


For somewhere to rest while staying in the area, the Malmaison Hotel near the centre of Aberdeen is as luxurious and pleasant as the experience you will have on the golf course.  The service too is right up there with what the Trump organization will provide you. 

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