To use its correct name Trump International Golf Links Scotland is located about 10 miles north of Aberdeen city centre on the A90 (also 10 miles from the airport) on a fantastic 20 mile stretch of coastline that is also home to Royal Aberdeen, Murcar, Newburgh and Cruden Bay. This was a controversial project from its inception. Conservation areas, objections from local residents and plans for an offshore wind farm development in sight of the course all threatened the project.
From the impressive entrance at the clock tower and the driveway that winds its way through the Menie Estate past McLeod House to the clubhouse this feels like an upscale venue. The driving range and impressive practice area are located on either side of the parking lot.
The course designed by Dr. Martin Hawtree opened in July 2012 and plays 7400 yards from the tips (thankfully there are a total of 6 tee boxes) with a rating of 77.4 with slope of 149 (is that challenging enough for you?) and is currently listed at number 54 in the Golf Digests World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.
The 1st tee is a bit of a walk from the clubhouse and the front nine starts out heading south and loops back to the clubhouse. Also a bit of a walk from 9th green to 10th tee heading north this time and looping back to the clubhouse. Some of the standout holes for me…
The 4th hole is the number one handicap hole and a tough par 5. The burn that runs the entire right hand side is constantly in your mind. An approach shot that doesn’t quite make it up on to the right hand side of the elevated green can easily run all the way back down into the burn!
The par 3 6th is the shortest hole on the course and for me the best. The view from the tee is fantastic! Anything to the right is in trouble here – possibly in the same burn you encountered on the 4th!
The 10th is another tough uphill par 5 to an elevated three-tier green surrounded by The Great Dunes of Scotland. My score started to slip here!
It can get tiring on the back nine especially on a windy day and reaching the 18th tee looking south towards Aberdeen is a welcome sight. Fairway bunkers are in play off the tee and for your second shot at this 651 yard (from back tee) par 5. Another set of bunkers short of the green justify this being the number 4 handicap hole.
It’s definetly a links course – tight lies, thick rough and fast greens – just not as natural as it’s neighbors. Of course, it’s not hundreds of years old like the others. Not yet anyway.
When I first played the course in 2014 there was no course map available for my SkyCaddie so had to rely on the sprinkler heads and the impressive yardage book. The course has since been mapped by SkyCaddie.
The clubhouse has a small pro shop as you enter and stocks some nice apparel and gifts. The clubhouse building was recently extended to provide more dining room space as this is a popular place to eat for non-golfers too. The menu and service are a bit more upscale than many courses in the area. I’ve actually had lunch here more times than I’ve played golf as it’s a favorite meeting place for my family. Alongside the clubhouse is a helicopter landing pad which I’ve seen used frequently. How about flying to Turnberry for an afternoon round? McLeod House offers on-site accommodation so there is the option to stay and play. There are plans for a second course and a 140-room hotel but it’s unclear when either of these projects will come to fruition.
I made my tee time inquiries by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and followed up with a call to finalize and pay by credit card.
Green Fees at Trump are the highest in this region but comparable with Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns the other ‘new’ premium courses in Scotland. The standard green fee in low season (April, October, November) is £165 (£115 for locals) and goes up to £215 (£145) from May to September. Proof of address required to get local discount. Caddies are available for £50 plus tip and they recommend booking one in advance. Note that the course is closed over the winter (December-March) each year
More info at trumpgolfscotland.com
Back in Aberdeen why not pair your modern links golf course with a modern whisky bar. CASC between Union St and the Rail station has a fantastic selection of single malts. They also have a great color coded beer list. See their website for all their Cigar, Ale, Scotch, Coffee (CASC) menus. www.cascbar.co.uk