Golf Course Review - Trump National (Bedminster, Old Course)|
By Phil Sokol - Director of Operations (TSN)
HISTORY: 525 acres of pristine property in the heart of New Jersey is
generally not available to just anyone and when Donald Trump viewed the land,
he knew it was something special and it had to be his. Quite the golfer
himself, Trump opened his pockets, sparing no expense. He started off with one
of the greatest architects of our time, Tom Fazio. With no less than 14
courses ranked in the top-100 in the United States, including three of the
top-25, Fazio set off to create a world class golf club.
1 - Par 5 567 Yds
2 - Par 4 436 Yds
3 - Par 4 460 Yds
4 - Par 3 206 Yds
5 - Par 4 488 Yds
6 - Par 4 438 Yds
7 - Par 3 185 Yds
8 - Par 5 565 Yds
9 - Par 4 460 Yds
10 - Par 3 189 Yds
11 - Par 4 332 Yds
12 - Par 5 610 Yds
13 - Par 4 416 Yds
14 - Par 4 413 Yds
15 - Par 4 427 Yds
16 - Par 4 480 Yds
17 - Par 3 233 Yds
18 - Par 5 655 Yds
Par 36 3,805 Yds
Par 36 3,755 Yds
Architect: Tom Fazio
Year Opened: 2004
Location: Bedminster, New Jersey
Slope: 147 Rating: 77.3
Key Events Held:
U.S. Junior Amateur (2009),
U.S. Girls' Junior (2009),
PGA Championship (2022).
Ranked #12 Best in State (NJ) by Golf Digest (2009-10),
Ranked #45 by Golf Magazine - Top-50 Greatest Courses last 50 years (2009),
Ranked #48 Top 100 golf courses in U.S. by Golf Magazine (2005),
Ranked #87 Top 100 golf courses in World by Golf Magazine (2005).
This outstanding piece of land dates back to the 1600's. The Duyckinck family,
a Dutch farming family, lived on the Lamington Farm property through the early
1900's, living in the "Old Dutch House" which is located adjacent to the
practice facility. The family grew apples, had an apple press to make cider,
and raised sheep. Legend has it that the land was haunted. John Duyckinck, an
alleged British sympathizer was confined to live within the boundaries of the
property after being jailed and exiled by George Washington in 1779. It is
still unclear if Duyckinck was a Revolutionary War hero, or a British spy, but
past residents claim to have heard the sounds of riding boots echoing in the
The property was then purchased by the Morgan Cowperthwaite family in 1917.
Heralded designer Mott B. Schmidt of New York City was commissioned by John K.
Cowperthwaite, Morgan's son, and his wife Victoria to build the residence.
Schmidt was a master architect who constructed the Susan B. Wagner wing of
Gracie Mansion, Sutton Place and homes for the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers.
During this time, the property flourished, as fox hunting, a diversion of
society's elite, was often held in the fall, while weddings and balls also
graced the land. Cattle was raised on the estate and the Lamington beef were
some of the finest in the area.
The Cowperthwaite family maintained the land until automobile manufacturer
John Z. DeLorean took over in 1981. Yes, that's the same DeLorean, who's car
along with actor Michael J. Fox starred in the movie "Back to the Future."
In January of 2000, the land was sold in bankruptcy court to Lamington Farm
Club LLC, with National Fairways as a minority partner. Fazio was brought in
and began construction in late 2000 and early 2001. Falling into bankruptcy of
its own in 2002, National Fairways had to sell, with three holes shaped, four
other holes under construction and the course fully routed. It was then,
that "The Donald" acquired this magnificent tract of land and fell in
love with its buildings and grounds, committing to create a course and club
for the ages. Trump started by restoring the Georgian Manor house, which now
serves as the clubhouse at Trump National.
|In just two years, Trump National, Bedminster was rated by Golf Magazine as one of the top-100 courses in the World.|
Fazio and his design team were given carte blanche to create history, which is
exactly what they did. "The property is sensational and the land was
tremendous before we ever started," commented Fazio. In just two years, Trump
National, Bedminster was rated by Golf Magazine as one of the top-100 courses
in the World. That's high praise for a course that Fazio calls, "as good as it
Most courses open up with a relatively simple first hole, allowing for
a little warm-up. Not Trump National. The opener is a rugged par five, the
third handicap hole, stretching 567 yards from the black markers. Ninety-three
yards of sand guards the left side of the landing area off the slightly-elevated
tee, while trees flank the right. Two choices remain for your second
shot. Number one, lay-up around the 100-yard mark to the green, thus avoiding
the tight fairway and bunkers on both sides of the fairway. Second option,
take three-metal and go for the green. Most likely you'll be short, but the
green is wide open, which will leave a short pitch. The putting surface is
devoid of sand and quite large at 42 yards long, making accurate club
selection crucial. Part of what makes this course so special are the
outstanding vistas on each and every hole, especially number one.
The second is a fairly straight-forward par four. The key here is the tee
shot, which must carry 240 yards from the elevated back buttons over a stream.
Favor the right side despite the sand, as trees guard the left. The green
bends slightly to the right and is flanked by 120-yard bunker that begins from
96 yards out. The putting surface, one of the longest on the course (48 yards
in length), slopes from back to front and is quite slick.
|The key at the second is the tee shot, which must carry 240 yards from the elevated back buttons over a stream.|
The next hole lies across the road of the main driveway that leads to the
clubhouse. This dogleg left par four at first look, seems fairly easy. Not so
fast. A preserved wetland must be crossed from the tee to an uphill fairway
that slopes away from the player on the right side. The rough is thick and the
bunkering on the left is well below the fairway. Your approach to the elevated
green is made even more difficult by the slope of the putting surface and the
deep traps left and short-right. Making par on this hole could be harder than
getting to play the course.
|From an elevated tee box, a long iron or fairway metal is needed at the fourth to reach the putting surface, which is fronted by a small lake.|
The fourth consecutive hole to feature a 40-yard-plus green, the par-three
fourth is a gem, stretching 226 yards. From an elevated tee box, a long iron
or fairway metal is needed to reach the putting surface, which is fronted by a
small lake. Sand protects the left side, but the real difficulty is the green
which features plenty of slope and contours.
One of the finest holes on the course, the fifth is a monster of a par four,
stretching 488 yards uphill from tee to green. Not only is length a must, but
accuracy is key. Thick rough covers both sides of the fairway and if that
wasn't enough, a pair of traps down the right side landing area are next to
impossible to get out of. Your second shot, from the rolling fairway, will
require and extra club or two, just to sniff the putting surface. The green,
tucked to the left, has two deep bunkers on the left side and one, short-right.
A back-left pin is the most difficult on this gem of a hole.
|A back-left pin is the most difficult at the 488-yard par four fifth, one of the finest holes on the course.|
The sixth is one of the many signature holes at Trump National. Just 438 yards
from the back tees, this downhill par four plays much shorter than its yardage
indicates, and features a peninsula green. The strength of the hole lies in
its strategy. Driver can be used off the tee, however, that will bring sand
and possible water into play. If successful, just a short, downhill 100-yard
pitch will remain. The other choice, is fairway metal or long iron, which will
set up a short iron into one of the longest greens on the course (49 yards).
Although water is taken out of play with this option, sand traps down the
right side and thick rough left join the fray. If you thought getting there
was difficult, the putting surface features plenty of slope and with shaved
edges towards the water, well, you do the math. Making a big number here is
|Just 438 yards from the back tees, the downhill par four sixth plays much shorter than its yardage indicates, and features a peninsula green.|
If there is a breather on the front nine, it's the par-three seventh. But,
let's not be too hasty. Although just 185 yards, the hole plays over water to
a very shallow green that is precariously close to the edge of the lake. One
trap fronts the green, however when the wind is up and the pin is back-right,
the term, "bailout left," comes to mind.
|If there is a breather on the front nine, it's the par-three seventh.|
The number one handicap hole on the course, the eighth is one bear of a par
five. To begin with, it's 565 yards, uphill and a dogleg left. Two large traps
occupy 75 yards of space on the left side of the landing area off the tee,
while trees guard the right. Here is where it gets tricky. Your second shot is
either a simple layup short of the creek and wetlands leaving an uphill, 150-
yard shot or hit a fairway metal or rescue club over the hazard for a shorter
approach. The real danger is the large, hardwood tree that blocks the left
side of the fairway and the group of trees to the right. On to the green. The
putting surface, the narrowest on the course (23 yards in depth), slopes from
back to front and is guarded by a 50-yard, gargantuan bunker prior to the
short grass. All I can say is, I'd like another shot at this hole.
|The real danger at eight is the large, hardwood tree that blocks the left side of the fairway.|
Returning to the clubhouse, the ninth hole is a stout, 460-yard, dogleg right
par four. Tall trees and a 46-yard trap blanket the corner of this beauty. A
strong, Jack Nicklaus-type fade off the tee would be ideal, thus setting up a
mid to long iron to the longest green on the front nine. The putting surface,
which sits across from the clubhouse, features a massive, deep bunker on the
left side. Play towards the right side and worse-case scenario, you'll make
bogey. Not a a bad score on this hole.
The back nine opens with a lovely par three, fronted by a lake and featuring a
wickedly, contoured green. Although a back-left flag would be difficult, any
pin up front will be extremely tough, as the putting surface falls sharply
toward the water. A long iron is required to negotiate this gem, but it will
be the flat stick that gets you par. The green is only 29 yards deep, but it
is quite wide and sloping from left to right and back to front. Miss the green
here and you're making bogey...or worse.
|The back nine opens with a lovely par three, fronted by a lake and featuring a wickedly, contoured green.|
A chance to get one back, but with a catch. The 11th is just 332 yards from
the tips, however club selection from tee to green and accuracy is key. First
of all, driver is not an option off the tee, as water can be reached with a
blast over 250 yards. So the sensible selection would be a fairway metal or a
bold three-wood down the left side. This is risky, as two bunkers guard that
side of the fairway, as it narrows towards the green. The bottom line, 230
yards off the tee will leave a short pitch to a 41-yard long green, protected
on the right by a lake and left by sand. Missing right or long will be a
problem, especially with a deep flag. The putting surface is exposed to the
elements, so be careful, or you'll make double-bogey like I did.
|The eleventh green is 41 yards long and is protected on the right by a lake and left by sand.|
Most would have you believe that the par-five 12th would be a birdie hole. At
610 yards, it's more like survival. The tee shot is slightly uphill and needs
to favor the left side, as a pair of long bunkers (40 and 33 yards long) flank
the right. After a successful tee ball, a proper layup is required, once again
down the left, as to avoid the lake which lurks short and right of the green.
The putting surface is boomerang in shape, with sand left and right. A back
right flag can add 20 yards to the hole and will make this one of the most
difficult holes on the course.
|The putting surface at twelve is boomerang in shape, with sand left and right.|
One of the few benign holes on the course, the 13th is relatively short by
today's standards at 416 yards. Devoid of fairway sand, this par four can be
had, as the landing area is quite wide. A short iron will remain to this
slightly dogleg right, but beware of the "Sahara" sand trap right of the
green. It starts 86 yards away and encompasses most of the putting surface.
Speaking of the green, it's the longest on the course, a whopping 57 yards in
As wide open as the 13th is, the 14th is just the opposite. A beautiful, tree-lined
dogleg left par four, this 413 yarder requires a 200-yard carry just to
reach the fairway and another 40 yards to get in sight of the elevated green.
Grand oak trees cover both sides of the fairway, one of the prettiest settings
on the course. An extra club is needed to gain entrance to the putting
surface, which is just 26 yards in depth. The lone bunker on the hole is short
and left of the green. Any ball on the front edge or shy of the green, will
roll down back into the fairway, leaving an awkward pitch back up the hill.
The 15th starts one of the finest stretches of holes in golf. A sensational
dogleg right par four, the 15th is an uphill gem that requires a 220-yard
carry over a ravine to a fairway flanked by trees left and right. The uphill,
rolling fairway features one trap 20 yards in length in the landing zone on
the right and another 45 yards up the fairway, for those of us who struggle
off the tee and need to layup. The shallow, two-tiered putting surface is
quite slick from back to front and features a huge trap, front and left.
|A sensational dogleg right par four, the 15th is an uphill gem that requires a 220-yard carry over a ravine to a fairway flanked by trees left and right.|
From the highest point on the property, the view on the 16th tee is
breathtaking, as you take in holes five and six to the left and what lies
ahead. This massive, downhill dogleg left par four stretches 480 yards from
the tips. Although elevated, the tee shot is daunting, as it requires a 255-yard
carry over a lake to a generous fairway, protected by three troublesome
bunkers right and a tall oak left. Even with a properly placed tee shot, a
long iron will remain, as the hole swings harshly to the left. The putting
surface, although not that deep, falls off sharply on the edges and is guarded
in front by a solo trap. A front-left flag could be the hardest to get at, as
the green is quite tight due to slope.
|Even with a properly placed tee shot at sixteen, a long iron will remain, as the hole swings harshly to the left.|
How can a 233-yard par three be the easiest on the course? That's what the
scorecard says, but the 17th is far from simple. The carry alone over the
wetlands to the green from the tips is a modest 210 yards. Two tall trees, one
on each side of the green, make for a imposing target. A pair of winding
streams protect the putting surface, front and back, not to mention a deep
trap, just short and left of the green. The short grass is 46 yards in depth
and slopes sharply to the front. By the way, the view of the historic barn
behind the green is awesome.
|The 17th is far from simple. The carry alone over the wetlands to the green is a modest 210 yards.|
With the 17th behind you, now all you have to do is conquer the 655-yard 18th.
This is one of those holes where you should have looked at the scorecard
before starting and decided not to play the back tees. If you can imagine, 100
yards separates the gold and black buttons. The fairway traps are out of play
from the back tees, as it takes a 343-yard wallop to reach one of the seven
fairway traps. The key off the tee is favoring the right side, as the barn and
silo jut out down the left side of this dogleg. After success off the tee, a
fairway metal must negotiate long bunkers down both sides of the fairway, as
you climb uphill to the green. Let's not forget that the landing area narrows
as you near the putting surface. The difficulty will be with your third shot,
judging the distance to the pin. The green is a 56 yards long and has a ridge
in the center running from front to back. A flag in the back-right quadrant
will bring the two greenside traps into play and make this one bear of a
FINAL WORD: A course like this comes along just once in a decade. Trump
National Bedminster has it all. Let's begin with the amenities. There will be
11 cottages built on the property, located a short distance from the clubhouse
in a separate "village", that will be available to members and their guests.
How about an Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts, spa, trap shooting
range and sport clays course, riding trails and a heliport. Located adjacent
to the clubhouse and across from the pro shop, the men's locker area is
situated in a two-story carriage house, complete with all the comforts of
home. The clubhouse was designed by noted architect Mott B. Schmidt, who
constructed the brick Georgian clubhouse in 1939.
Now let's talk golf. First of all, the practice facility. 16 acres of land,
including a three-tiered driving range, short game facility with two practice
greens allowing shots ranging from 20 to 120 yards, six additional practice
greens in the chipping and putting area and one private lesson tee.
The course, well in a word, superb. The Old Course, Bedminster layout is outstanding in
all aspects and it's just two years old. Five sets of tees, ranging from 5,100
to 7,560 yards, so the course is for all players, not just the single-digit
golfer. With his name on the marquee, you have to believe that Mr. Trump would
not skimp on details. He certainly has not, with impeccable grounds, great
course conditioning and an fine-tuned staff, Trump National is what golf in
America is all about and what it will be in the future. Big, bold and
beautiful. Elevated tees, rolling, tree-lined fairways, seven water hazards,
forced carries, chipping areas and large contoured greens. There's no question
that this course will someday host a major event. "This course was built with
tournaments in mind," said Trump. "Besides offering a great challenge for the
best players in the world, we've created great spaces for gallery, ample
parking and ease of access."
With the addition
of the New Course, built in 2009 by Tom Fazio II, the Bedminster property is now complete.
Not the easiest of tickets, as Trump National
Bedminster is by invitation only. But what the heck, if you got it, spend it.
Spectacular countryside, phenomenal golf and a great ambience. Can you imagine
what this venue will be like in the coming years? Like a fine wine, it will
only get better with age.