Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Donald Trump with course designer Martin Hawtree (glasses) one step behind as they are piped to the opening ceremony of the Trump International Links at the Menie Estate today. Image by Cal Carson Golf Agency.

Donald Trump cuts the symbolic tape on the first tee. Colin Montgomerie is on left, Donald Trump junior and Sandy Jones, PGA chief executive on right. Image by Cal Carson Golf Agency.

The Big Three .... Donald Trump, Colin Montgomerie and Sandy Jones.
Image by Cal Carson Golf Agency.

Donald Trump drives the first ball to open the new Trump International Links.
  Image by Cal Carson Golf Agency.

followed on the first tee by Colin Montgomerie.

The Trump International Links at the Menie Estate, 10 miles up the coast from Aberdeen, are now officially open after seven years in the planning and construction at a cost so far of £100,000,000  ... but it will be invited guests who will be on the course for the rest of the week.
Paul Lawrie and Sir Bob Charles will be the first past Open champions to play over the links.
The course is not open for public play until Sunday, July 15, from when the rates to the public will be:

Weekday: £120 per player.
Weekend: £160 per player.

Weekday: £150 per player
Weekend: £200 per player.

Generally players will tee off in groups of four, as is the case at the Old Course, St Andrews.

Kingsbarns Links is the only top Scottish course, I can think of, to close for several months in late autumn through the winter until re-opening in the following spring.
That may be the plan for Trump International as a Press Release talks about the course being open for play daily UNTIL October 31.
What happens AFTER October 31 is not spelled out. If Kingsbarns can do without winter visitor green fees and give their links an end-of-year, start-of-year rest, it would seem to make good sense for a similar policy to be followed at Trump International Links.
There was tight security for the opening day. My car was stopped FOUR times along the brand new tarmac entrance road built from the main Aberdeen to Ellon road down to the temporary (but very nice) clubhouse and huge practice area (vast driving range, short-game area and massive putting green) which, alone, is a great addition to the North-east's golfing facilities.
Whether you can go out there and pay simply to practise, I have no idea ... yet!
What had been farmland on either side of the new road has all been landscaped and turfed at the edges, at what must have been an astronomical cost.
At first sight, what used to be fields and a shooting estate is much easier on the eye that it used to be. And there is no question that the construction of a quality links along the sand dunes has enhanced the beauty of the landscape. There is general agreement that course architect Martin Hawtree has produced a masterpiece.
Only invited guests and many media representates were allowed entrance today. There was no sign of a single protester, no placard-waving Green Party member, not even at the turn-off from the main road.
"Iconic course" .... "One of the world's top three courses" ... "A links capable of staging any top tournament in the world."
Those were some statements made in the speeches before Donald Trump cut the symbolic tape on the first tee and he himself took the honour of driving the first ball.
Colin Montgomerie followed him. Then came Scots-born PGA chief executive Sandy Jones and the last of the first four-ball was James Finnigan, a representative of the European Tour.
George O'Grady (Chief Executive, European Tour) and Richard Hills (Ryder Cup Director) were also in attendance, but were unable to play in the Course Opening as they had to attend a Tournament Committee Meeting at Castle Stuart, later that afternoon.
It was George O'Grady, who put all the hype into perspective when he was asked by the Media later if the Trump International Links could and would stage the Open championship or the Ryder Cup.
"As far as the Open is concerned, you would have to ask the RandA. That's their tournament."
The RandA have a long-established roster of Open championship venues - Carnoustie, St Andrews, Muirfield, Royal Troon and Turnberry in Scotland; Royal Birkdale, Royal Liverpool, Royal Lytham and Royal St George's in England. There has been no change in that list for many, many years although Carnoustie dropped off it for a while before being reinstated.

George O'Grady added:
"As far as the Ryder Cup is concerned: Gleneagles will host the 2014 Ryder Cup and that's really Scotland's turn past for another decade or more. Some of us in this group will be pushing up the daisies before the Ryder Cup comes back to Scotland after 2014."
France's bid for the 2018 Ryder Cup has been accepted and all the European countries want their turn in staging it. There can only by one venue on this side of the Atlantic every four years so work your way past France, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Germany and that takes care of the next 20+ years.
George O'Grady added:
"I've only seen 16 of the holes here and that was when I came up for the Walker Cup last September. No question it is a magnificent links and there's no doubt that we can and will stage a European Tour event here ... but that's someway down the road.
"New courses have to settle. Once Trump International Links has bedded in, as it were, then we can think about which European Tour event could come here."
What's the rush, anyway?
Why not cut its teeth with smaller tournaments - say the Scottish men's amateur championship for argument's sake, and iron out what are bound to be minor problems, as every new course ever built has had to smooth over.


American businessman Donald Trump, whose mother came from Scotland, has officially opened his new links course in Aberdeenshire, a course that has been completed amid opposition from local residents, local councillors, environmentalists and despite plans for a huge windfarm a few miles offshore in the North Sea.

Multi-millionaire Trump, who owns a whole raft of golf courses in the States, cut a ribbon and struck the first ball on his new multi-million pound Scottish golf course, Trump International Golf Links, on Tuesday.
Almost seven years after purchasing the Aberdeenshire property, the businessman called Scotland the home of golf and said he hopes to have built "perhaps the greatest golf course in the world."
Mr Trump and his children teed off with former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie who said it was an honour to play the first round on the course.
"It makes me very proud to be a professional Scottish golfer today, to witness the opening of his fantastic course. On behalf of all the pros that are playing up in Inverness today, I can go back tomorrow to tell them how wonderful this site and this occasion is today," said Montgomerie.
The building of Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire has been controversial, with environmental campaigners opposing the construction of the course on protected sand dunes and Trump himself complaining about a potential offshore windfarm being built near the site.
The business tycoon's son, Donald Trump Junior, defended the golf course, saying: "We have been scrutinised by every group that there is out there. Every independent agency that's monitored us, that's been appointed to monitor us by the council, we have got all glowing reports."
He added: "Architect Martin Hawtree wrote the book on environmental golf development. He's our architect. He's been incredibly instrumental in everything we have done here."
The course will open to the public on Sunday July 15.
More than £100 million has been spent on the course and the clubhouse, but further plans for a hotel and holiday homes in the area have been put on hold until a final decision is made on the offshore windfarm proposal.



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