Trump International Golf Links, Scotland
Designer: Dr. Martin Hawtree
When Donald Trump broke ground on the Trump International Golf Links – Scotland and proclaimed it would be the “greatest golf course in the world,” his most brilliant move in delivering on those expectations was somewhat atypical. For a guy that is known the world over for firing contestants on reality television, it was who he hired that got Trump International off to a proper start: third-generation course architect, Dr. Martin Hawtree.
Perhaps no other golf course in the history of the world has been surrounded by as many polarized opinions and as much geopolitical drama than the Trump International. There can be no doubt that Old Tom would scoff in disdain that his glorious game was mixed with such unsavory affairs of state, but alas when it comes to this course and the parties involved, the pairing was simply unavoidable. Still, if there was ever an example that golf should never be mixed with politics, but instead reserved as an escape from it, this new links in the dunes of Aberdeenshire is most certainly it.
The only thing in equal standing to the outsized personality behind Trump International is the grand stage on which it was built. The magnificent dunes are among the largest in Scotland, and although it rarely comes into play, one is keenly aware of the sea thanks to several inspiring views throughout the links.
Of course, a phenomenal piece of property can only take a golf course so far; it takes the right vision from the designer to bring it all together. Martin Hawtree is known to some as the “Open Doctor” thanks to his commission from the R&A to update courses ahead of the Open Championship – most controversially, the Old Course at St. Andrews. Yet despite his impressive resume, only in his wildest dreams would Hawtree have a seaside landscape such as this to craft a world-class links.
There are several truly great holes at Trump International, particularly the par-3s. Hawtree himself deemed the short 6th his favorite on the course, while the backdrop of dunes behind the 13th green is particularly inspiring. In addition, the greens are perhaps the truest roll in Scotland, thanks to a unique blend of bent and fescue grass. Another standout is the bunkering, which at times is both penal and plentiful with 18 traps appearing on the 18th hole alone. The purists had a field day with that one.
Which makes for an inescapable point when it comes to Trump International: no two opinions of the course are alike. One “expert” will deem it to be a failure, while another will sing its praises on high. Such assertions are best left to the individual golfer, but perhaps our Founder and CEO said it best just days after Trump International opened:
Trump Scotland isn’t the greatest golf course in the world, and it is too early to tell if it is even great, but there is no question that it’s very good. ~Sam Baker, July 2012
Major Basil Haversham, OBE