Trump International Golf Links, Aberdeen, Scotland

Trump International Scotland (Links Course) – Review and Rating

Donald Trump is not modest. "The world's best golf course" is his own assessment of Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire. Read on to see if we agree.

"Scotland didn't need to have another links course built here". Such was the opinion of one of my fellow golf journalists when we visited Trump International Golf Links. Maybe he's technically correct in that Scotland didn't NEED another links course, but who wouldn't want one? While the project has been mired in controversy from the beginning, the end result is truly magnificient. Say what you want about Donald Trump, but he knows how to build a golf course.

That said, the clubhouse is surprisingly unassuming. It is not lacking in any way, and it is beautifully appointed, but it is not particularly big. It fits in quite nicely in the surroundings, looking like it belongs and has been there for a long time, even though it only opened in 2012. The same goes for the restaurant and pro shop. The menu has everything you could ask for, service is prompt, and the food is first class, but it is not too much. The pro shop has what you need, and of course, some branded luxury clothing, but again, it's not over-the-top. Not at all the gold and glitter you might expect when you hear the Trump name, but actually rather tasteful.

Trump International Scotland Information
Address Menie Estate,  Balmedie, AB23 8YE Aberdeen, , Scotland (View map)
Email[email protected]
Total # of holes18

The course is a natural links course with two nine-hole loops, returning to the clubhouse after each loop.

Laid out by Martin Hawtree the holes run predominantly north-south, parallel to the coast and dunes, with only a single exception, the par-three 13th. While some landscaping has obviously been done, the course gives a very natural appearance, as if someone just mowed the grass to accommodate a bit of golf. There is not a cart path to be seen, all the pathways connecting the holes are well-manicured grass. Everything is meticulously well maintained, yet we couldn’t spot a single worker on the course.

When you are ready to play, the starter will accompany your group to the first tee, and help you select the correct tee box for your level of play. There are six tees to choose from. Be modest and select one that you can master, you’ll have more fun that way. It is not an easy course.

The first hole is a nice par five, reasonably wide so everyone can be off to a good start. It is also reachable in two for stronger players. The green is up on a ledge and is moderately undulated, something that you find on many of the holes. Interesting greens of reasonable difficulty. However, with many elevated green the traditional links-style bump-and-run game is not on option on most holes. Instead, a more American style of high approach shots is favored.

Moving on to the second hole we get the first view of the North Sea from the elevated tee. Here a burn crosses the fairway, again to challenge the stronger player.

The third hole is a real treat. A moderate par three, it offers a stunning view from the tee. As you walk down towards the green, you start hearing the waves as you are now close to the sea, actually the closest you will ever get on the course. This would be a signature hole on many courses.

The course continues in this manner, with some holes down amongst the dunes providing some shelter from the elements, and some holes with elevated tee boxes providing stunning views of the land and the sea. After hole four you turn back towards the clubhouse, with five holes slightly more inland but parallel to the first four. Of these, the short par three 6th hole is maybe the most stunning, with the green slightly obscured by the dunes.

After nine holes you are back to the clubhouse. There is no halfway house per se, you have to buy your snacks at the bar.

The second loop of nine continues in the same vein. The 11th hole has the tee with the highest elevation on the course, providing some stunning vistas.

The 13th hole is the only hole that doesn’t run along the north-south axis. A beautiful par three with an elevated tee box, again with a stunning view (you never get tired of the views). This is another hole that could easily be the signature on another course.

After your (hopefully) successful navigations of the 13th, the walk over to the 14th tee is something else. As you reach the top of the hill, the 14th fairway reveals itself below and it is quite a sight. “How will I ever be able to hit that fairway” is the first thought that crosses your mind. It looks like it is a mile away, and if you picked one of the back tees it almost is. But what a view, a narrow fairway protected by dunes on both sides, and a view of the North Sea to boot. Brilliant, Martin Hawtree.

On hole 16 you turn back towards the clubhouse and into the prevailing winds. You work your way slightly uphill on the 17th before you reach the 18th, the longest hole on the course.

Even if you have selected a more forward tee, I encourage you to climb to the back tee just for the view. From the top you can see the clubhouse and most of the golf course, as well as all of the 18th hole, complete with its eighteen (18!) bunkers and a small pond. If you are playing a friendly game and not holding up the ball behind you, why not hit a “provisional” just to see if you can reach the bunker complex below? Live a little smile

As we finish our round and I think back on the course, the first thought that comes to mind is just “Wow”! I know this is not a professional way to rate a golf course, but that is truly what I felt. I bet you will, too. Is it the best course in the world? No, but it is close. We highly recommended it.

Trump International Scotland Review & Rating 50 GBP
4.6 of 5 stars 1 review
  • Presentation
  • Variety of holes
  • Fairness
  • Visual appeal
  • Routing
  • Fairway quality
  • Green quality
  • Value for money

Trump Links Review

This is what I think of the course.

Comments Rating 5 (1 review)


  • Great layout
  • Perfect condition
  • Not too fancy


  • Well, Trump
Trump International Scotland (Links Course) Information
Number of holes18
Greenfee, 1 (low) - 5 (high)5
Course AvailabilityOpen to Public
Season January  - December
Course TypeLinks
Course DesignerMartin Hawtree
Year Opened2012
Start Interval12 minutes
Handicap Limit36 (men), 54 (women)




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