The Greatest Course in the World?
Donald Trump promotes his course in Aberdeen as 'the greatest course in the world', and we were keen to see it for ourselves.
It was 19 degrees and intermittently sunny with light winds as we headed onto the links in early July.
Perfect weather for golf!
This is a magnificent site for golf, located in massive dunes known as The Great Dunes of Scotland right on the Aberdeen coast, and close to both Royal Aberdeen and Murcar Links.
Dr Martin Hawtree, known for renovating courses for The Open Championship, designed the course.
The course is attractive visually, and hopes were high as we played the par five 1st hole, and then the par four 2nd hole. The former had a burn across the fairway to challenge the tee shot. They were both nice holes.
The par three 3rd hole raised the excitement levels somewhat with a delightful green setting and beach and ocean as the backdrop. This was surely one of a number of seaside holes and vistas..
But no, sadly that was our last experience with the sea....
The par 5, fourth hole looked good but was way to busy in front of the green, leaving no obvious path to the putting surface when choosing to avoid a cluster of pot bunkers, a water hazard, and steep side slope.
Still it looked good!
I thought all of the par 3's to be good holes, and the sixth was no exception, with green tucked into a valley of dunes.
It was also another particularly photogenic hole.
I particularly like short 2 shot holes where you are presented with a number of viable options when deciding how to play from the tee, and the driveable seventh hole became an instant favourite. The green had a deep dip not unlike a moat protecting the front of the green!
Strong longer fours at 8 & 9 closed the nine.
After quite a walk to the 10th tee via the clubhouse, the par 5 tenth moves toward the really big dunes, and then the 3rd shot plays though a gap in those dunes. The green setting is special, surrounded by dunes, but the green complex itself underwhelms. But ...the hole looks really good....
Other holes of note include the par 4 fourteenth hole which plays from the mandatory elevated tee down through a deep valley behind the primary dune, and parallel to the beach, and the par 5 eighteenth hole with another elevated tee looking down at 'the black holes of doom', our name for the plethora of revetted pot bunkers dotting the landscape.
I mentioned that this is a spectacular site for a golf course, with dramatic dunes right on the sea.
It is a great site, and visually the course does not disappoint.
The course itself is of championship quality, or will be when the fairway turf matures, and the greens are not so horribly slow.
But this is not a great course in my opinion, but a very good one.
The differences are subtle.
None of the issues I record as drawbacks are fatal on their own, but collectively they downgrade my overall impressions of the merits of the Trump course.
I have heard from others that too many tees are elevated, and the bunkers are all the same.
The course is by the sea, but only rarely has any reference or views thereof.
Although the course is framed by massive dunes, there is little interaction between dunes and playing areas- rather the dunes appear to merely frame the holes...
Nearly all links courses have real rumple running through the fairways, but Trump looks like the sand was graded relatively flat between the dunes giving the impression the course itself could be anywhere in the world but for the surrounding dunescape.
The sameness of the bunkering, and the relative evenness of the fairways gave a sterile, soulless feel to the course.
This was reinforced by the strangely subdued clubhouse which, although centrally located, had no views of course, sea or anything in particular.
I love links courses with character, and would play Nth Berwick or Cruden Bay anyday in preference to Trump.
This is not to say that Trump is not a good course.
It is a very good course, and one that would set up well for championship golf.
All of my criticisms are based on my personal observations, and what I most appreciate about links golf in Scotland. And in the end of the day, whilst I thought it a good course, I doubt I will return.
There are so many other adventures to be had in links golf in Scotland, and they are calling me...