Appeared in Summer 2009 LINKS
Donald Trump has been expanding his golf empire. In the past couple of years, he has acquired courses in New Jersey, Virginia and Puerto Rico, in addition to finally receiving the go-ahead to build two links layouts in Aberdeen, Scotland.
The crown jewels in his ever-expanding empire remain the three original designs he has commissioned: Trump International in West Palm Beach, Florida; Trump National Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, New York; and Trump National Bedminster in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Of those three, Trump plays at Westchester most often, primarily because he can leave his Fifth Avenue office and be on the 1st tee in less than an hour. In the winter, he usually flies down to Palm Beach for his weekend golf fix.
But the club that ultimately may allow him to fulfill his goal of hosting a major championship is Bedminster. The Old course is an epic 7,560-yard Tom Fazio layout less than 40 miles west of midtown Manhattan.
While waterfalls and lush landscaping are features of Trump’s other courses, there are few such frills at Bedminster. Instead, it is the natural setting and stern layout that grab your attention from the start, on the sweeping 567-yard opening hole, which shares an open space with the parallel 9th. These two holes alone are enough to give an idea of the large scale of the rolling 525-acre property, which used to be carmaker John DeLorean’s estate.
The theme of size continues on the muscular par 4s, including the 460-yard 3rd, 488-yard 5th, 460-yard 9th and 480-yard 16th, and on the two 600-plus-yard par 5s, the 12th and 18th. After the first 13 holes, which are mostly open, the layout enters a wooded area at the 14th hole before re-emerging on the double dogleg 655-yard finishing hole.
Many of those holes play even longer due to the elevation changes. For example, the 5th green occupies the highest point on the property. So after struggling to reach the green, players would be well advised to enjoy the view.
One of the sights just may be U.S. Golf Association headquarters, which is literally down the street from the course. Trump has hardly been subtle in lobbying for a U.S. Open at Bedminster, and he has bolstered his argument by adding the New course, which opened late last summer.
Measuring 7,511 yards and designed by Fazio’s nephew Tommy, the New course is routed around the perimeter of the property, nearly encircling the Old and giving members a welcome dilemma: Which 18 should we play today?
USGA officials will see how the courses play in July when both the U.S. Junior and Girls’ Junior amateurs will be played concurrently at Bedminster. After alternating courses for stroke play and the first several match-play rounds, the boys and girls will convene on the New course starting with the quarterfinal rounds.
Who knows? Perhaps some of the contestants will return years later to play for a major championship at Trump Bedminster.