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Exclusive: ‘No better venue for Ryder Cup’ than our Aberdeenshire course, Eric Trump says

Trump International Golf Links will host its first big event next week - the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship - with Trump also revealing when the second course at Menie will open.

Eric Trump at Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire
Eric Trump at Trump International Golf Links, Aberdeenshire, in 2018. Image: Kami Thomson/DC Thomson.

Eric Trump says there is “probably no better venue on Earth for a Ryder Cup” than Trump International Golf Links as the Aberdeenshire course prepares for the test of holding its first significant tournament.

The European Legends Tour’s flagship Staysure PGA Seniors Championship – with the main event preceded by a pro-am and the wapp Celebrity Series – takes place from Wednesday to Sunday next week, and Major winners like Jose Maria Olazabal and Tom Lehman are among those set to take part.

The championship course on the Menie Estate opened in 2012 and Trump, who runs the Trump Organisation’s golf properties across the globe, thinks the arrival of the tournament not only reflects the high regard the course is held in internationally, but is the first in “a lot” of future big events at the site.

Speaking exclusively to the Press and Journal from Florida, he said: “We’re excited. It deserves the best tournaments in the world.

“We’ve talked about the Scottish Open and a bunch of the big tournaments. There’s been a lot of interest.

“It’s a very young course – it’s only 10 or 12 years old and you don’t see that many young courses getting prestigious tournaments like this.

“We’re going to have the best senior players in Europe at the course.

“And it can handle anything – it will certainly be able to beat them up.

“It’s long, it’s hard, but it’s one of the most beautiful courses anywhere on Earth.”

The tournament village being built ahead of the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship at Trump International Golf Links
The tournament village being built ahead of the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship at Trump International Golf Links. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.

Trump, 39, who will travel from US to attend the legends tournament, added: “(We’ve got) the great dunes of Scotland, you’ve got some of the greatest undulation of any coastal course anywhere in the world, overlooking the North Sea – the place is spectacular, the conditions are amazing.

“It’s absolutely immaculate and all of the players I’ve got over before the tournament, they’ve all been raving about it.”

Eric Trump
Eric Trump seen at the final round of the 2023 LIV Golf DC tournament at Trump National Golf Club Washington DC. Image: Shutterstock.

LIV tournament talks over Aberdeenshire venue – Eric Trump

Although the championship course at Trump International Golf Links ranks highly in major golf publications’ annual rankings – the Martin Hawtree-designed track was tied-67th in Golf Digest’s 2022/23 world list, and 18th in Golf Monthly’s 23/24 UK and Ireland charts – it has taken a decade for the venue to welcome this first large-scale professional tournament.

Trump insists they have been approached “many” times over the past decade, with the site well-placed for tournament-hosting due to being “a massive, massive property” with “the size, the parking, the facilities” to go with the course itself.

The natural question for north-east golf fans will be which future events could follow the Staysure PGA Seniors Championship in coming to Aberdeenshire.

The Trump Organisation’s courses in the United States have hosted multiple events for LIV Golf – with the Saudi-backed tour’s players, including Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, teeing it up last week at Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey.

Donald and Eric Trump clapping
Eric Trump, left, and former US president Donald Trump, center, watch the first round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament at Trump National Bedminster last week. Image: AP.

Trump revealed there have been talks with LIV over their north-east course, saying they have held discussions “with a lot of people about bringing great tournaments to Aberdeen – certainly LIV”.

He reckons tournament organisers will be watching the European Seniors’ visit to the course near Balmedie next week with interest, saying: “We just came off a great week in Bedminster the past weekend. I literally just got back from there. Cam Smith won it and he’s an unbelievable champion.

“We also have (the LIV Golf Team Championship at Trump National) Doral coming up, and earlier this year we had LIV at Trump DC.

“We actually have five (events) this year as we’re going to have Legends in Aberdeen.

“They always use events to layout the facilities, course set-up, spectator flow, etcetera.

“At Bedminster, we held a couple of amateurs and then the Women’s (US) Open (in 2017) prior to the biggest events. It’s a big part of getting those events right.

“I can assure you, the (Aberdeenshire) course is, if not the best, among the very best in the world – and there’s going to be a lot of tournaments there for many years to come.”

‘This course could certainly hold a Ryder Cup’

Asked whether hosting the Ryder Cup – the biennial battle between Europe and the US’ best golfers – might also be a possibility, Trump would not go into specifics but insisted the Aberdeenshire course would be up to the job, adding: “This course could certainly hold a Ryder Cup – in fact, there’s probably no better venue on Earth for a Ryder Cup than this property.

Fans watching The Ryder Cup
The Ryder Cup is one of the most iconic tournaments in sport. Image: PA.

“But we’ve discussed quite a lot of tournaments over the years.

“Time will tell and stars have to align, based on schedules and everything else, but it’s capable of it and I just think it’s going to show unbelievably well next weekend.”

The Staysure PGA Seniors Championship arrives in the north-east at a difficult moment for the Trump family.

Patriarch Donald J Trump is facing four criminal indictments in the US, while simultaneously leading the way in the battle to land the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential race – with the 45th president pursuing a return to the White House after he was replaced by Democrat Joe Biden in 2020.

The Trump Organisation’s official position is events across the Atlantic will not distract from next week’s European Legends Tour showpiece. 

New MacLeod Course to open in early 2025

Trump senior’s last visit to Aberdeenshire was in May to perform a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at their new MacLeod Course.

Donald Trump cutting the ribbon to break ground on the new MacLeod golf course at the Menie Estate in Balmedie, Aberdeen.
Donald Trump cut the ribbon marking the beginning of construction of the new MacLeod course in Aberdeen. Eric Trump is on the right of the picture. Image: Trump International Scotland.

His middle son, Eric, is hopeful the new course – named after his Scottish paternal grandmother Mary Ann MacLeod,  – will be open by early 2025.

He said: “When you see what we’re doing on the second course, I think we’re creating the greatest golf destination in Europe.”

Trump added: “As we speak, we’re mid-construction. We’ve finished five or six holes, or at least the initial grading of five or six holes.”

Elaborating on the timeline for the MacLeod course, which is costing “many tens of millions of pounds”, he said: “We’ll have it done in about 15 months – the actual building – but you need about a year of grow-in, so it’s going to be about early 2025 before you have golfers out there every single day.

“You could rush it – and obviously we’re full steam ahead, construction every single day and big crews – but you want a full year for the fescue to take and the grow-in of the grass and the greens to settle in, and to have it be perfect.

“We’ll only open up a place when it’s absolutely perfect.

“We’ve got a tremendous section of land, with some of the biggest coastal sand dunes anywhere in the world, and the course is going to be really, truly spectacular.”