Trip Tips: Controversy is par for the course at Trump's Scots resort

Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:26pm EDT
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By Spencer Anderson

BALMEDIE Scotland (Reuters) - Just about everyone, including people who don't care about golf, knows that American mogul Donald Trump, sometimes known as "The Donald" as if there were no other, owns a course in Scotland.

But how many people know what it is like to play it?

Before visiting with a golfing buddy, I knew of the controversies - environmentalists had opposed it when Trump bought the land in 2006, some landowners refused to sell. More recently, Trump scrapped plans to invest more at his site near Aberdeen, because he opposed plans for a wind farm nearby.

But I was curious to see for myself, and anything that has caused such a ruckus in one of the world’s quiet corners is probably worth seeing. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it be opulent, tacky and over the top with delusions of grandeur? Or was it well run and enjoyable? The answer was all of the above.

Let’s start with the entrance.

The gateway is a little sign along the A90. The driveway feels like an entrance to an American golf resort - long, single lane, empty fields, quiet, clear that you are headed somewhere secluded and nice. The first thing you see is MacLeod House, a "historic" mansion dating back to the last decade, where higher rollers than myself can stay. I’m sure it’s nice, but at more than 300 pounds ($510) per night, I passed.

The drive continues down a steep hill where the clubhouse, practice area, course and sea all come into view. Impressive, but unlike the opulent hotel, the clubhouse is small, wooden and simple. A young porter collected our golf bags. Did he expect a tip? Were we suddenly in American territory? I played it safe and tipped him. He looked at me knowingly - another American.

The clubhouse’s interior is tasteful, but there is more Trump merchandise on sale than can be believed. Trump hats, Trump shirts, Trump T-shirts, Trump ball markers, Trump, Trump, Trump. My favorite was the bottle of Trump whisky that had somehow been aged for 26 years - for a course a few years old.   Continued...

Real estate developer Donald Trump gives a luncheon speech at the National Press Club in Washington May 27, 2014.    REUTERS/Gary Cameron