Trump International Links

Few courses have had a more colourful early history, or courted more controversy than the Trump International Links, built in Aberdeenshire on a dynamic dune system.


Founded 2013
Yardage Championship course white tees 7400 yds
Par 72
Golf Digest World Ranking 56th in the world
Handicap Restrictions No handicap restrictions apply


Trump International Links

The Course itself

Donald Trump doesn’t really do under-statement, so when he said he was going to build the “greatest course in the world” it was probably interpreted as characteristic in most quarters. ‘Greatness’ is of course a personal thing and although no definitive formula exists, most people consider heritage and history to be a part of the accolade. It’s palpably unfair to apply such a threshold to a course that opened in 2013, but if you strip this component out of the equation, then we think he’s got a very credible candidate which only looks like gaining further plaudits as it starts to establish itself.

Hillocks and dunes are staple features of links courses and places like Troon are often cited as being devilish, and Birkdale possesses some pretty impressive dunes too. Trump understands scale, and when he selected this stretch of coastline at Balmenie he saw Himalayan dunes and hillocks closer to mountains. What he had was a fantasy, almost lunar landscape, of intimate deep sanded valleys which were capable of being inter-linked by snakes of green fairway, and it even had a natural burn to introduce a water hazard. The next task was to bring in a top architect and the dream was on the road

All 18 holes thread their way engagingly through these dunes which rise to find views of the sea and coastline, and plunge into secluded valleys, offer alternating spaciousness and enclosure, panoramic views, in a rich tapestry of vegetation, landscape, and wildlife.

So is this a true Scottish links course? Technically yes. The 10th hole has an air of Birkdale about it protected as it is by a steep-sided horse-shoe hillock that accords it a sense of being an amphitheatre. The 7th green is an elevated stage and has the DNA of Royal Dornoch running through it. The 13th is a kind of hybrid that has similarities with Troon’s Postage Stamp. All the ingredients are there.

It’s perhaps the 3rd that is emerging as the signature assignment though and its this type of thing that possibly defines the courses character. The front of the green brings a devilish runnel into play as an outwash stream empties onto the beach into a pool through break in the dunes. It’s a stroke of design genius. If you slip it too far to the right you could be playing out of rough, water, or natural sand. Too far left risks the undergrowth, which no place to be either

Another par three of note however is the spectacular sixth. When Martin Hawtree looked out from atop of the dune system on which he stood, he saw another top dune some 180yds with ravine below linking them. Hawtree nominated the sixth (page header photograph) as his favourite hole, and as he conceded himself, he designed 5%, nature designed the rest

There’s just a trace of the desert meets green oasis about it the Trump International, as sand transforms to grass. It’s this that lends it a sort of Dakota’s quality that is pretty unique to Scotland.

We won’t know for some time yet what will become the defining challenges of these links, but we suspect the protection afforded some shots by the dunes before sending the ball out into local wind shifts could well become a feature. We also think its going to earn a reputation as being a fair course too. Good shots will be rewarded. Poor ones will be punished.


Buggy hire, Trolleys, Caddies and Clubs

When playing Scotland you are very much in the heartland of the sports traditions. In a lot of cases this won’t extend to 20th century inventions such as buggies/ carts. You are invited to take a step-back into history to a large extent, and play a round in the manner more akin to how the game was originally conceived. This is quite normal for the top courses. Trump has upheld this tradition, albeit the course undulates in such a way as to make piloting a buggy hazardous.


Driving Range Available Yes
Rental Carts Available No
Rental Trolleys Yes
Caddies Yes – gratuity at own discretion
Rental Clubs Available Yes
Pro Shop Yes

Course rules/ requests

The management staff will agree the golf course and practice facility set up on a daily basis and decide when it is fit for play. Caddies, trolleys or carts (valid medical certificate only) should be arranged with the Caddie Master. All players should be registered in the Golf Shop at least 30 minutes prior to play. All play shall commence from the 1st tee. Play commencing from any other tee may only be done by permission from the Golf Shop.

In the interest of a proper pace of play, we encourage all players (particularly those entertaining guests) to play from the most favourable and user friendly tee location. We strongly suggest that everyone plays from the tee recommended by the Golf Shop.

The acceptable maximum time frame for a four-ball to complete their round is 4 hours 30 minutes. If your group is failing to maintain a proper pace of play (meaning holding its position relative to the group in front of you) you must allow the players behind your to play through regardless of the number of players. To ensure the proper pace of play, half way Golf House stops should not exceed 15 minutes.

Please be aware that the course is situated within a beautiful and dramatic dune landscape which naturally has very steep slopes and varying ground conditions. The utmost care must be observed if venturing outside the maintained playing areas to avoid injury.


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