We take a look at the two Scot­tish cour­ses Don­ald Trump owns.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS - WORDS MIKE WIL­SON

Don­ald J Trump, en­tre­pre­neur, bil­lion­aire, one-time host of the US re­al­ity TV show, ‘The Ap­pren­tice,’ golf re­sort owner, now, how­ever un­likely that may have been a cou­ple of years ago, Pres­i­dent of the United States of Amer­ica and ar­guably not only the most pow­er­ful man in the world, but also the most con­tro­ver­sial and di­vi­sive pub­lic fig­ure in more than a gen­er­a­tion.

But, set­ting all of that to one side, Trump’s twin golf re­sorts in Scot­land, from where his late mother hails, (there is a third, Trump Doon­beg, a links re­sort in the west of Ire­land) are gen­uine gold stan­dard, au­then­tic, chal­leng­ing cham­pi­onship-stan­dard cour­ses, but with a va­ri­ety of tees, sym­pa­thetic to mid-and-high-hand­i­cap golfers too.

In terms of the over­all pack­age, great golf and luxe-de-luxe hos­pi­tal­ity, Trump Turn­berry is ev­ery bit the real deal; since ac­quir­ing the re­sort from Dubai-based Leisurecorp for a re­ported US$60m in April 2014, his com­pany has spent al­most US$300mil­lion on ren­o­va­tions and a ho­tel that was fray­ing at the edges.

At the re­ported be­hest of the R&A and in or­der to re­gain its place on the Open Cham­pi­onship ros­ter, Trump hired renowned course de­sign team Macken­zie and Ebert to bring the Ailsa Course up to 21st cen­tury stan­dards and af­ford the course op­por­tu­nity to de­fend it­self against to­day’s bighit­ting pro­fes­sion­als armed with new tech­nol­ogy.

The course has been stretched by 150-yards to 7,357-yards, with the par in­creased from 70 to 71, the 5th hole be­com­ing a par-5, al­though it will test the best by re­vert­ing to 70 if, and when The Open re­turns as it surely must.

Once the weak­est open­ing hole on the Open Cham­pi­onship ros­ter, the 1st has been sub­stan­tially stiff­ened, fol­lowed by five new holes, the 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 14th, with sig­nif­i­cant al­ter­ations to all other holes in­clud­ing the re­shap­ing and po­si­tion­ing of bunkers, new tees and green po­si­tions and the soft­en­ing of green con­tours to pro­vide for more op­tions for pin po­si­tions.

The Ailsa Course at Turn­berry has hosted the Open Cham­pi­onship on four oc­ca­sions, most fa­mously, the mem­o­rable 1977, ‘Duel in the Sun,’ when Tom Watson pre­vailed over Jack Nick­laus in a fi­nal day shoot-out be­tween two of the best in the busi­ness un­der a rare Scot­tish sum­mer sun, Watson al­most re­peat­ing the feat at the age of 59 over the Ailsa Course in 2009, a story that would have eclipsed the fa­mous Duel in the Sun and, ar­guably, ev­ery other sports story of all time.

With Royal St. Ge­orge’s stag­ing the 2020 event, and St. An­drews ac­corded the 150th an­niver­sary Open in 2021, 2022 would be the next op­por­tu­nity for Turn­berry to host the old­est ‘Ma­jor’ of all, and with Muir­field said to be back on the R&A ros­ter af­ter last year’s con­tro­ver­sial vote to al­low women to join the Honourable Com­pany of Ed­in­burgh Golfers which owns the course, Turn­berry’s prospects look favourable in the medium to long term, es­pe­cially as money talks loud and the power of an Amer­i­can pres­i­dent, or pos­si­bly ex-Pres­i­dent is highly-per­sua­sive.

The high­light of the re­mod­eled course is a stretch of eight new con­sec­u­tive holes fol­low­ing the rugged shore­line: the 5th, a yard short of 500-yards, a de­mand­ing Par-4; the 7th, a mus­cu­lar 572-yard Par-5; but the jewel-in-the-crown is the 9th, for­merly a pic­turesque but some­what limp Par-4 with the iconic Turn­berry Light­house tow­er­ing over the green.

But on, it is said, the spe­cific in­struc­tions of the Com­man­der in Chief, an awe-in­spir­ing 244-yard Par-3 has been chis­eled out of the gran­ite shore­line, de­mand­ing a 200-yard carry across a watery grave, plac­ing this, un­ques­tion­ably, amongst the finest holes in world golf.

The new Ailsa Course is re­lent­less, barely a respite from a bar­rage of chal­leng­ing Par-3s, hefty Par-4s and ro­bust Par-5s, only the 408-yard, Par-4 13th of­fer­ing any for­give­ness, the 17th, one of three bruis­ing Par4s to fin­ish, the 17th, at 506-yards fully de­serv­ing of its col­lo­quial name, ‘Lang Whang,’ Scots for a, ‘Lengthy thwack.’

Many thin skinned and oned­i­men­sional, pro­fes­sional PGA TOUR play­ers are will­ing and able at the end of a Pres­i­den­tial aide’s phone to drop ev­ery­thing for a round with their Com­man­der in Chief; to date, his Guest Book will carry the names and sig­na­tures of, amongst other, Tiger Woods, Dustin John­son, Rory McIl­roy, even Jack Nick­laus and one can only spec­u­late as to the apres-round party when wild child John Daly came call­ing in the sum­mer of 2016, ex-Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton mak­ing up the three-ball.

Back at Turn­berry, which he vis­ited re­cently on a, ‘Good­will trip,’ leav­ing the Scot­tish tax­payer with a re­ported US$10m se­cu­rity bill, Don­ald J Trump has not got where he has, both in pol­i­tics, in busi­ness and in the me­dia with­out hav­ing an eye for the main chance, and he’s has taken it in abun­dance with the 485-yard, Par-4 fin­ish­ing hole.

At 7,453-yards from the cham­pi­onship tees to a more man­age­able 6,250-yards for men and 5,800-yards for women, there can be few more ex­hil­a­rat­ing, if chal­leng­ing links golf ex­pe­ri­ences on Planet Earth; Peb­ble Beach, Cy­press Point, Royal Mel­bourne, Royal County Down, The Ocean Course at Ki­awah Is­land, the Links at Fan­court all spring to mind, but the new Ailsa Course at Turn­berry, which, de­spite all the his­tory and her­itage of St An­drews, makes the Old Course look – and play – like a pitch-and-putt course.

But, for this cor­re­spon­dent at least, Trump’s Turn­berry pièce de ré­sis­tance is, with­out ques­tion, his treat­ment of the fa­mous 1878 light­house, cre­at­ing not only a world-class half­way house for golfers, but also, ap­pro­pri­ately enough, the ap­po­sitely-named, ‘Pres­i­den­tial Suite,’ an ex­clu­sive, se­cluded lux­ury re­treat, a snip at US$4,250.00 per per­son, per night.

Re­spond­ing to fears that Turn­berry might be trans­formed into a gold-and-mar­ble replica of Trump Tow­ers in New York and the Ailsa Course a clone of the other ar­che­typal, over- de­signed lay­outs in the Trump Golf port­fo­lio, a sur­pris­ingly, ge­nial and un­der­stated Eric Trump sought to re­as­sure scep­tics.

And lead ar­chi­tect Martin Ebert was pleased with his cre­ation too, say­ing, “There is huge in­ter­na­tional re­spect for the ex­ist­ing course at Turn­berry and there­fore we were very care­ful to make an in depth study of the evo­lu­tion of golf at Turn­berry be­fore mak­ing these changes.

“The re-born Ailsa course will cre­ate a much-en­hanced golf­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, mak­ing even more use of the spec­tac­u­lar land­scape and the iconic his­toric scenes that make Turn­berry so spe­cial. That, in turn, will lead to even more en­joy­able golf for ev­ery­one and fur­ther dra­matic cham­pi­onships at Turn­berry,” con­cluded Ebert.

Mean­while, the fi­nal piece in the Trump Turn­berry jig­saw will be in place later this year, with the re­mod­elled Kin­tyre and Ar­ran nine­hole cour­ses amal­ga­mated into one 18-hole, Par-72 lay­out, to be named King Robert the Bruce, in hon­our of the 13th cen­tury Scot­tish King, who was born in Turn­berry Cas­tle, where the ru­ins still sit close to the light­house.

Also de­signed by Martin Ebert, this will be an ideal course for the recre­ational golfer, with breath­tak­ing vis­tas from the

8th, 9th, 10th and 11th of­fer­ing spec­tac­u­lar views of the cas­tle ru­ins and the light­house, the craggy shore­line coast­line pro­vid­ing a tremen­dous visual fea­ture and sport­ing chal­lenge, with the ap­proach shot to the 9th gen­uinely awe-in­spir­ing with its green perched high above the waves crash­ing onto a rocky out­crop.

Al­most 200-miles north east of Trump Turn­berry, on the op­po­site coast of Scot­land lies Don­ald J Trump’s Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Links, which, with suit­able bom­bast if not a great deal of ev­i­dence to back it up, the US Pres­i­dent de­scribes as, “The great­est golf course in the world.”

Opened in con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances fol­low­ing a lengthy plan­ning process and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns in 2012, in fair­ness to ar­guably the most pow­er­ful man in the world, his US$150m cre­ation is good, very good, the 7,428-yard Par-72 course near Aberdeen was de­signed by an­other renowned mas­ter of his trade, Dr. Martin Hawtree.

Hawtree says of his cre­ation, again un­der­taken un­der the watch­ful eye of the man the Scots call, ‘The Don­ald,’ “The course of­fers a se­quence of su­perla­tive to­pogra­phies, panoramic views, land­scapes al­ter­nat­ing be­tween spa­cious­ness and en­clo­sure, the whole time a rich tex­ture of veg­e­ta­tion and wildlife habi­tats sur­round­ing the golf holes.

“The golf course is lack­ing for noth­ing, there are no weak holes,” adds Hawtree, con­clud­ing, “It is sim­ply the most dra­matic, stim­u­lat­ing, in­vig­o­rat­ing stretch of golf any­where I have seen in my ca­reer.”

A tra­di­tional Scot­tish links course com­pris­ing two out-and-back loops of nine holes, Trump In­ter­na­tional Links threads and weaves, ducks and dives its way through the eco­log­i­cally-im­por­tant Great Dunes of Scot­land, ris­ing to find panoramic views of the coast­line be­fore plung­ing back down to sea level and some de­light­ful, se­cluded val­leys redo­lent with na­tive flora and fauna.

With a vari­a­tion in el­e­va­tion of over 100ft from some tees sculpted atop the tow­er­ing dunes down to the fair­ways and greens, dodg­ing the 93 deep, revet­ted bunkers, many of them in­vis­i­ble to the ball­striker, is the name of the game, as is keep­ing out of the per­ilous, tan­gling rough at all costs.

Not one sin­gle hole re­veals it­self un­til on the tee, each and ev­ery club in the bag is tested, each shot pre­sent­ing its own par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge, this is a course that lures the golfer into go­ing for his or her shots, but cru­elly pun­ishes any­thing not struck with author­ity.

Most golf course de­sign­ers are coy on the sub­ject of sig­na­ture holes, and, as Dr. Hawtree rightly says, “There is no weak hole on the course,” but when pressed, he says, “The Par-3 sixth, It’s got ev­ery­thing: a burn, dunes, the sea view, a de­mand­ing shot, it’s got it all.”

The tes­ti­mo­ni­als come thick and fast, Sandy Jones, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Bri­tish PGA, gushed, “There is no doubt in my mind it will cer­tainly be in the top three in the world, but I don’t know what’s go­ing to be num­ber two and num­ber three,” the whiff of vested in­ter­est

To date, one very fine course has been built along with a mod­est club­house and a ma­jor makeover for the Me­nie Es­tate man­sion, McLeod House and Lodge, which can ac­com­mo­date just 19 peo­ple, no res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties, with 150 peo­ple cur­rently em­ployed, many on a sea­sonal ba­sis, not them “Fivet­hou­sand-plus,” he had promised.

As one re­spected Amer­i­can golf course re­viewer put it, “We pulled into the park­ing lot, and I was kind of sur­prised with how, I sup­pose, unim­pres­sive things were,” adding, “Don’t get me wrong, it was nice, with or­nate lamp posts and a very quaint, small club­house, but this is Trump we’re talk­ing about.”

Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Links Scot­land is like a Rolls Royce body with­out an engine or an au­then­tic Rolex Day­tona watch case with­out a mech­a­nism, but ‘The Don­ald’ is suf­fi­ciently dis­tracted, wealthy and cussed enough to take the heat, bide his time and make Scot­land pay for dis­obey­ing his or­ders.

Don­ald J Trump, the 45th Pres­i­dent of the USA may not be your ar­che­typal politi­cian, and it’s dif­fi­cult for a Scot to process how such a brash, bom­bas­tic in­di­vid­ual could have emerged from the womb of a mother, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, born and raised in the tiny ham­let of Tong on the out­ly­ing Scot­tish Is­land of Lewis.

But, love him or hate him, be­lieve in or be­lie his po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sions with both a cap­i­tal, ‘P’ and lower case, his golf prop­er­ties, both around the world in gen­eral and in Scot­land in par­tic­u­lar, the home of golf, may be a con­tra­dic­tion in terms, but, boy, they are, with­out ques­tion, the real deal.

(T-B) US pres­i­dent Don­ald gives a press con­fer­ence to of­fi­cially open his golf re­sort. The 365 yards par 4, sixth hole at the Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Links Doon­beg in Doon­beg, County Clare, Ire­land.

11th hole on the Ailsa Course at the Trump Turn­berry Re­sort on July 29, 2018 in Turn­berry, Scot­land.

(T-B) Don­ald Trump ar­rives in a he­li­copter at Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Links. 14th hole de­signed by Martin Hawtree at the Trump In­ter­na­tional Golf Links Doon­beg.

9th hole on the Ailsa Course at the Trump Turn­berry Re­sort in Turn­berry, Scot­land.

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