Has Donald come up Trumps?
Most people have heard about Donald Trump’s attempt to build a golf complex at Menie, north of Aberdeen and the problems he has had securing planning permission, particularly involving one stubborn individual who did not want to re-locate and Trump’s own objection to the ‘eyesore’ of an enormous windfarm that is proposed to be built offshore from his course.
An entrepreneur of his ability and passion for golf (he plays off a four handicap) has been undeterred and has continued to find £60m to put into the course, through these harsh, recessionary years, while
the announced £750m investment into a wider golf complex with hotels etc has been reportedly put on hold.
In earlier, better, economic times, three important golf courses have been built by Americans recently in Scotland which are vying for top status and acceptance within the ranks of the finest courses. Castle Stuart and The Renaissance have both been fully reviewed by FineGolf and I can report that, at the second of these, four new holes close to the Firth of Forth are under construction and plans lodged for a £5.5m clubhouse, located beside Muirfield. Kingsbarns has also been welcomed into the 200 finest courses with its beautiful visual aspects and exquisite links bunkering being particularly outstanding.
Each of these three courses are on non-links coastal land that with high investment has given a fine running course but the terrain at The Menie Estate is proper classic linksland which potentially gives Donald Trump the opportunity of building a course that perhaps really could be as fine as our finest Open Championship venues.
I understand no expense is being spared in design and agronomy and we can expect a very special treat when it is finally opened for play this summer.
Martin Hawtree (the third generation of the Hawtree design partnership) is in charge and says “The golf course will lack for nothing. The landscape framework of the site comes close to an ideal. There is nothing missing and the layout as conceived would contain no weak holes. It will produce simply the most dramatic, stimulating, invigorating stretch of golf anywhere I have seen in my career.”
All the tees (these have an interesting design feature in being hidden, among the high dunes) and the fairways are composed of pure fescue while the greens and approaches are a bent/fescue mixture. 5.6 million marram grass sprigs have been planted, entirely by hand, to control sand erosion and stabilise the dunes.
John Bambury, the links superintendent (the American version of our expression ‘head greenkeeper’) says “the fairways have to be better than the best tee-boxes, the tee-boxes have to be better than the best greens and the greens have to be better than anywhere else in the world.”
The Menie website describes Donald Trump as “ bold and brash “ and the ambition here is infectious.
Bambury continues “the design marries the contrasting elements of a rugged, beautiful landscape and pristine grass surfaces and makes them totally complimentary, while maintaining the essential links experience. Mr Trump came up with the extended greens concept – he wanted a perfect frame of turf around each one. So we’ve used exactly the same cultural treatments, the only difference being the height of cut.”
Menie, so I believe, will have a membership component as well as pay-and-play at about £150 per round. No buggies or mobiles will be permitted and walking encouraged. Play will be teed off at fifteen minute intervals and is expected to result in a four and a half-, to five-hour, round. The clubhouse is to be built of local granite.
Donald Trump has promised the world’s greatest golf course and perhaps those involved are about to participate in a piece of history.
It is likely to be called ‘Trump International Links’ rather than Menie. But hey! doesn’t the guy deserve some pay-back from all that investment of time and money?