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First look at Trump plan for ‘world’s best course’

Donald Trump has lifted the lid on detailed plans for the Scottish golf course development that has sparked so much controversy.

Members of the public will, for the first time, be able to see how the American billionaire proposes to transform Menie estate in Aberdeenshire into the resort.

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The masterplan, which has been submitted for consideration by Aberdeenshire Council, includes an 18-hole golf course built amid the sand dunes – which the course designer said would provide the “most dramatic, stimulating, invigorating stretch of golf anywhere I have seen in my career”.

An aerial view of the development shows a hotel, holiday homes and a residential village in addition to the course itself.

Mr Trump said: “This is another significant step towards our goal of building the world’s greatest golf course and resort in Aberdeenshire.”

The billionaire has already set his sights on turning the golf course into an Open venue and has recruited groundsman Paul O’Connor, the driving force behind Carnoustie for 20 years, as the first manager of the

championship resort on the Menie Estate.

Dr Martin Hawtree, who has worked on Carnoustie and Muirfield and designed the 18-hole course on Menie, said: “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.”

Mr Trump, whose mother was born on Lewis, selected the Menie Estate in March 2006. Environmental activists feared the project would have an adverse effect on the dunes, which are designated a site of Special Scientific Interest.

Residents who face being removed from their homes to make way for the development have objected, but the application has received unprecedented support from the business community. It was given the go-ahead after a public inquiry.

A spokesman for Trump International said yesterday that detailed plans for environmental, landscaping, construction and infrastructure were now complete.

Gareth Hoskins, director of Glasgow firm Gareth Hoskins Architects, added: “The masterplan establishes a framework for both the resort and residential community that is about creating well-designed places and ensuring ease of movement and accessibility both for the surrounding communities and the wider public.”

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “We can confirm we have received a masterplan for the Menie development, along with a related application for the championship golf course element of the scheme.

“These documents are required as part of conditions outlined in the original planning consent, and will now be assessed by planners in consultation with various statutory bodies and others. Members of the public will also have the chance to view and comment on the plans.”

The masterplan can be viewed at an exhibition at the Udny Arms Hotel in Main Street, Newburgh, on March 12 and 13.

Future Open venue? Let’s wait and see

COMMENT: Douglas Lowe

So Donald Trump has taken “another significant step towards our goal of building the world’s greatest golf course and resort”. You sure can’t accuse the great man of hiding his light under a bushel.

With erstwhile Carnoustie groundsman Paul O’Connor

on board in Aberdeenshire alongside architect Martin Hawtree, who has involvement in four Open Championship courses on his CV, it is not difficult to see where The Donald is going. He wants the Open there. Oh, and the Ryder Cup as well.

With barely a sod cut, the course is being hailed, breathtakingly, as better than Muirfield, Turnberry, Carnoustie, St Andrews Old Course, Royal Troon, Loch Lomond, Gleneagles: places all oozing with history and tradition, and that’s just in Scotland.

Frankly, I can’t see the understated body that is the R&A taking the Open to a course called Trump International Golf Links any time in the current geological period, even if it does fit all requirements.

Mr Trump wants to dedicate the links to the memory of his mother, Mary MacLeod. That being the case, he could have called it The MacLeod, instead of making it a monument to himself.

I have no doubt it will be a very good golf course, but the world’s greatest? Let’s see the course finished first, and please start looking at something more modest and realistic for an opening event, like the Tartan Tour’s Northern Open.

Douglas Lowe is The Herald’s golf correspondent

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