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Trump International, Scotland 18th

Politics Aside… Trump International, Scotland is a Must Visit

Beautiful accommodation, a sublime golf course and a second one to come… Forget the name of the place and take the trip to Aberdeen!

 

The name may put some people off, but if you are a keen golfer then a trip to Trump International Golf Links, Scotland is an absolute must.

To say that this is the baby of the Trump golfing portfolio would be apt, as it is the only property in said portfolio that has been built from the ground up.

The rest of the Trump golfing world including the likes of Trump Turnberry, Trump Ireland and Trump National Doral have all been purchased.

2006 saw the Trump family purchase a huge plot of land on the Aberdeenshire coast, and within six years, a golfing paradise had been constructed. Continual improvements and the construction of a second course (opening in either 2025 or 2026) will certainly push Trump International Scotland to the very top of resort lists around the world.

2024 will see the venue host the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship, the flagship event on the European Legends Tour, for the second time after such great success last year.

The great Colin Montgomerie will be the host of the tournament, 12 years after being part of the fourball that opened the course back in 2012.

What is it about Trump International, Scotland that makes it so special? I went to find out on a two-day jaunt to Aberdeenshire.

First Impressions

After a long drive, the excitement grew as I came to the entrance of the property, and from then on, I had a huge smile on my face throughout the 36 hours I spent at Trump International, Scotland.

From the moment you turn off the main road, you can tell that you are entering a place of class and style. The sign that says “Trump International Golf Links”, the huge clock and the pristine brickwork and shrubbery are just the start.

The drive from the main entrance to the course takes a couple of minutes, and the road takes you past MacLeod House and Lodge, named after Donald Trump’s mother’s maiden name.

Follow the road round and you drive past the clay pigeon shooting area, as well as seeing some of the local animals, including a herd of cows.

After a right turn at the top of the hill, you see the glorious golf course lying in front of you, and the smile gets even wider. From the beautiful clubhouse, which was erected in 2015, to the Scottish flag that waves proudly in the typical sea breeze, it provides a beautiful outlook to the North Sea.

The staff – whether it is the greens staff, the starters, or those working in the pro shop or clubhouse – are all incredibly lovely, and will aim to tend to your every need.

Within five minutes of driving through the main entrance, you already feel comfortable with where you are (even if your car is the worst in the car park, as mine was)!

The Golf Course

As I mentioned earlier in the piece, this is the only course in the Trump portfolio which has been built from the ground up. The land was purchased in 2006, with the course opening six years later.

Martin Hawtree, who has helped with redesigns at a number of Trump properties worldwide, was again the man to design the stunning layout which runs along the coastline of the North Sea.

Trump International Scotland 1st tee
Here’s me not knowing what was to come, but looking forward to the task in hand!

2012 saw the opening of Hawtree’s course, and he was present at the opening. A fourball of soon-to-be President Donald Trump, Colin Montgomerie, Sandy Jones of the PGA and James Finnegan from the European Tour opened the course.

Hawtree, the designer of the course, described it as 5% his work, and 95% the work of Mother Nature. You can understand why he would think that with the layout winding its way through some of the biggest and most beautiful dunes you will find anywhere in the United Kingdom.

The course is a true test of golf, but one that can be enjoyed by golfers of all abilities, with no fewer than six teeing options to choose from. The Blacks are the longest at 7,452 yards, but that comes all the way down to the Greens at 5,845 yards and the Reds at 5,215 yards.

I opted for the Blues at 6,648 yards, and with a strong northerly wind (unusual as the prevailing wind is typically the opposite direction), I set off with the hopes of playing some good golf and enjoying this stunning layout.

There is definitely the opportunity to score well despite all the trouble. If you are careful with your tee shots and don’t stick to a driver-only plan from the tee, then playing to or below your handicap is very doable.

For me, the highlight was the par 3 3rd hole, and for a somewhat selfish reason. The opening par 3 of the round is usually played into the prevailing wind, but on this glorious Wednesday afternoon, I had the wind at my back, a 6-iron in hand and the picturesque view in front of me (not to mention the sun peeking through the clouds).

Five minutes later, I was celebrating a hole-in-one. Unfortunately, thanks to the sun being in the eyes, we were unable to see that it had gone in from the tee, so the celebrations were somewhat muted compared to what you may see on social media. Nevertheless, no one can take away the fact that my first hole-in-one was on the 3rd hole at Trump International, Scotland.

Trump International Scotland

From there on, I wasn’t really bothered with how the rest of my round went. I just enjoyed the walk and the glorious scenery that the course is set in.

Soon enough, this will not be the only layout at Trump International Golf Links, Scotland. A second course is in the process of being constructed, with murmurs around the venue saying that the second course will be even better than the first!

Around the 4th, 5th and 6th holes, you can look across to what is currently a construction site, but you already get a feel for what is to come with the new layout.

The second layout at Trump International, Scotland will feature three distinct sections. There will be heathland holes, wetlands holes and links holes along the coastline. I, for one, am very excited to see what is to come!

The Resort & Hospitality

I have to start this section by saying that there are plenty of other resorts across the United Kingdom that will be much better for families. Trump International, Scotland is very much a golf-first venue, despite the glorious accommodation.

However, if you are coming with your partner, or as a group looking to play a stunning golf course, then Trump International, Scotland certainly ticks the boxes.

I was lucky enough to stay on-site at the glorious MacLeod House & Lodge, and I am starting to run out of superlatives to describe the accommodation and the service.

Firstly, after checking in, I was driven from the reception to my room, which was conveniently located on the ground floor. Even the key to get into the room was exquisite, and a proper key! None of this credit card-looking malarkey you get in most places…

A knock on the door came shortly after, and all the ingredients for a ‘Hot Toddy’ were passed to me. The lady who came to the door also offered to turn down the room for the evening, which I politely declined as I am too British to let someone else do the job for me!

And then, there was the room itself…

Trump International, Scotland accommodation

The room I was in for the night had two glorious and comfortable king-sized beds, a table and chairs, along with a desk in the corner. There was also a TV with Sky and Sky Sports available, which meant I could watch the football in the evening!

The bathroom was luxurious, and filled with Natura Bisse products. There was a separate bath and shower, and robes to wear during your stay.

Apart from a wedding a few years back, I genuinely don’t think I have stayed in a room with more luxury and class, thanks to the room and the service of the staff.

Throughout the summer months, guests staying at MacLeod House and Lodge must stay at the venue for at least two nights. Oh no, what a shame! Imagine having to stay in this luxury for more than one night… Fine by me!

My verdict – ignore the politics and embrace the long journey to get there!

There are two factors that will stop people from taking the time to visit Trump International, Scotland – the name associated with the venue, and the fact it is somewhat in the middle of nowhere.

Having spoken to several people at the resort, they know that both of these will mean that visiting numbers are perhaps lower than other venues.

For instance, the drive for myself coming from Leeds took almost seven hours, with a distance of 370 miles in each direction.

For those coming from even further afield, there is the option of getting either a train or plane into nearby Aberdeen, which is around a half-hour drive from Trump International, Scotland.

If you’re willing to travel, and like me, you couldn’t care less about whose name was attached to the venue, then you’re going to have an incredible time.

With one epic golf course already there, and a second soon to be opened, it’s well worth the travel and forgetting the name at the top of the buildings.

If you don’t have Trump International, Scotland on your golfing bucket list, it needs to be added, and quickly!

Have you visited Trump International, Scotland before? What did you make of the Scottish venue? Can it host the Open Championship in the future? Let us know your thoughts with a post on X, formerly Twitter!

Matt Coles

Matt Coles

Mention a European country, and Matt will tell you which resorts make the National Club Golfer Top 100s: European Resorts list. He might even throw in who designed the golf course and how many rooms the hotel has got at each one…

Matt got into the game of golf from a young age, following his old man to the local golf club. He fell for the sport, and now can’t seem to go a day without thinking about how to improve his game (Thanks Dad!). Matt has been a member of Howley Hall GC in Leeds since 2020, and is just about managing to maintain a single-figure handicap. He likes to remind people that he once broke 75, but won’t tell people that it was on a shortened course during the winter.

He moved to Leeds after graduating from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class Honours degree in Sports Journalism. Matt joined NCG after almost five years travelling the world with the Professional Squash Association, working on events in all four corners of the globe.

Matt currently plays a Cobra King LTDx driver and RadSpeed 3-wood. TaylorMade monopolise the rest of his bag, with a SIM UDI, M5 irons and both Milled Grind and HI-TOE wedges, along with a Monza Redline putter. He uses a Vice Pro Plus golf ball, because he’s a bit different…

Away from golf, Matt is a Manchester United fan, and a keen runner, having ran the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon (his first and possibly last), in May 2023.

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