Page 19 From Winter 2011 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
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Florida’s #1 Golf Course
Trump International Golf Club
Page 1 -
2 The World Class Par 3s at Trump International

by Joe Stine, Editor - Florida Golf Magazine

        Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida is very deservedly being touted by Florida Golf Magazine as the 2011 Editor’s Choice for Florida’s Best Golf Course. Although it's also arguably one of the best maintained golf courses in Florida, the beautiful execution of Trump International's architectural design is the product of a cooperative team effort by Golf Course Architect and ‘renaissance man’ Jim Fazio, and golf course owner Donald J. Trump.
        In 2004 Jim’s brother, world renowned golf course architect, Tom Fazio, told Florida Golf Magazine that the most important feature of a potential golf course design project is the client. He said, “With today’s technology we can move enough dirt to do almost anything, if the owner is willing to spend the money.” This being said, it’s plain to see that Tom’s older brother, Jim Fazio, won the proverbial jackpot when Donald Trump decided he would be the lucky golf course architect that got to design the course for the ultra private Trump International Golf Club.

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Shown in this aerial photograph, the 17th Hole at Trump International Golf Club is partially encompassed by the 18th fairway.

        In a 2005 interview with Florida Golf Magazine, Jim Fazio said in regard to Mr. Trump, “It was so much fun to build this course because the owner never asked, were we spending too much money. He always asked, ‘Do you need anything else?’ Those were his words every time he came out. Working for a guy like that is fun, because he doesn't stifle the creative process.”
        On the original 18 holes at Trump International, which is most often referred to as the ‘Championship Course’, Jim took a relatively flat piece of land and by moving over 3 million cubic yards of dirt, and bringing in over 5000 trees, shaped Trump International into an exquisite 7,350 yard golf course with phenomenal elevated tees and water features. The results are spectacular.

Golf Course Architect Jim Fazio, seen here next to the 18th Green in front of the Trump International Clubhouse.

        “The whole project,” Jim explained “which took over two years to do, was probably the most fun I ever had building a golf course. I never really thought about the pressure I was under to build a great golf course. Using too much money never entered my mind until a couple years after it was finished. Trump really put me under the gun by giving me that much money and saying, ‘Give me the best that you can do’, and, ‘How good is it going to be?’”
        Jim continued by saying, “My uncle, George Fazio, used to say, ‘Never worry about anything, just work through it and keep going.’ So we just worked every hole, every angle and looked at it every day for a solid year after we moved the dirt and the trees. So if there were any changes to be made, we made them while we were there, when it was easy to see it right away. As far as I'm concerned, I don't know how it could have turned out any better. Nor do I know how we could have spent any more money without making it look gaudy.”

The back tees of the 413 yard, par four 14th green at TIGC

An aerial view of the green complex 14th Hole at TIGC

        “With the trees, creeks and the rocks and the tinkling sound of the water,” said Jim, “I've never heard anyone say anything negative about it, or that it's too hard. There's always a place to play golf. If there's water on one side of the fairway there's always another place to go. You don't have to airmail the ball over a lake unless you missed something. The angles are always there, to play the golf course and keep the ball going forward, even if it's on the ground.”
        Jim offered another insight into the course’ design, saying, “Something else that lots of people really like about Trump International is that it is very playable. It's rated hard from the back tees, but it's not rated hard from the front tees. The golfers may not know that, but they do know that they enjoy it.”
        “One of the things that helped make this course so good was that we started with a clean slate and were allowed to do almost anything we wanted,” Jim cheerfully acknowledged. “After deciding the routing, we moved over 3 million cubic yards of dirt using a rough grading plan. We never did a final finish plan at the start of the project, so the finishing features of every hole were decided on, and built on the job as we went along. Designing as we went along, deciding on one feature at a time, is what made the golf holes so unique, because we could do anything we wanted to them while we were building them. We weren't stuck doing anything because of a finish plan.”

  3 million cubic yards of dirt were moved building the 1st 18 holes.
         “We were able to move so much dirt because Donald Trump was the owner,” admitted Jim. “It’s nice when the owner says, ‘Do you need more dirt? Do you need more trees? Do you need more pipe?’ He was willing to do anything it took to make this a spectacular course. A lot of times I had to tell him, ‘no we don't need any more of this, we don't need any more of that. Too much of one thing may be too much.’”
        “As a result”, said Jim, “We have a blend of everything we needed. We have rock features, water features, and they flow throughout the whole golf course so you’re never really surprised when you see something else, because you saw a little taste of it on this hole and another little bit of it on that hole. That's what really makes a golf course blend and flow like this. There are no real surprises, and also it all looks natural because of the hills and slopes that we have.”
        “We started the job,” he continued, “and it took us one year just to transplant 5,000 trees, move 3 million tons of dirt and build the lake system. The Department of Environmental Resources (ERM) told us we could only clear 50 acres at a time. It was sketched out into seven sections. We had to go in and label all the trees and move what we could. What we knocked down, we had to mitigate. We also relocated over 60 Gopher Tortoises. It was a long drawn out process, the longest one I've ever been involved in.”
        “We started building the golf course after that,” Jim explained. “I was actually in charge of the shaping and finish grading on that project. I was there every day with my son, Jim, who was operating the dozer and doing the detailing after we got it roughed in. Together, we actually built all the greens, bunkers and tees. That's how that golf course was built, day by day.”
        Jim was patient, yet very enthusiastic as he continued with his description of the day by day endeavor. “Then we had to figure out where we were going to put all the water features. One of the hardest parts was building the water feature at #17. It took nine months and cost 2.5 million dollars, with all the work we had to do around it, and on the feature itself.”

  The foundation of 2.5 million dollar water feature on #17 at TIGC
        “The next hardest job,” exclaimed Jim Fazio, “was building the cart paths, trying to hide them between mounds and getting the concrete trucks up these hills. We had a special dozer we rented just to pull the concrete trucks in and pull them out. The concrete we used had Chattahoochie stone aggregate and was twice as expensive as normal concrete. Plain old concrete wasn't good enough for Mr. Trump.”
        The trees are magnificent on this course, and Jim also gave us some background about them. “We bought and moved 1,000 oak trees from out near Lake Okeechobee. It took us five months to move them all in. These were 20 to 40 ft. oak trees. They had to wrap them, and they could only haul three of them at a time. The landscaper would bring them in and drill a hole in them and pick them up to place them. I would place each tree after the hole was shaped. This way we got our tree lined fairways. We stuck some trees out in the corners for targets for shot angles and stuff like that.”

The View atop the highest of nine elevated tees, 5 stories above the split fairway of the 550 yard, par five 15th Hole. Play the tee shot left of the creek and the lay-up right of the creek. Accuracy is important on the approach shot into the shallow, sloping green.

Pictured at left is the view, looking back at the fairway from the bridge next to the 15th green.

        “Working with the trees was very painstaking,” explained Jim. “Then, we bought more than a thousand royal palms to line the outside of the property. We lined the driving range with them, and around the clubhouse to give it that formal stately look. We didn't use them on the golf course, because to me they don't look natural. We also bought 1,000 coconut trees. Coconut trees go great on the golf course. They hang over the lake. They hang over the tees. Things like that make it kind of neat. Like when you go up the cart path on 17, you’re going through a coconut trail.”
        Fazio conceded, “I know we spent 2 million dollars on the little plants that give the place color. That's a lot of plants. There's so much variety and color in the plants, lakes, streams, creeks and waterfalls, people spend time on taking pictures and forget to play, because they've never seen anything like this in Florida. The golf course by itself probably cost 8 million. And the water features and the trees cost another 8 million. I would say without the clubhouse we spent 25 million. I know he (Mr. Trump) always says everything cost 40 million, but I'd guess it cost a little more than that.

The back tees of the 413 yard par four, 16th Hole at TIGC.

Dr. Gary Wiren hits an approach to TIGC’s difficult 16th Hole.

        Jim Fazio concluded his description of Trump International Golf Club by giving his assessment of the finishing holes. “The three closing holes, 16, 17 and 18, are really great golf holes," he said. "During the LPGA tournaments, depending on the wind, they were always two out of three of the toughest holes on the golf course throughout the tournament. Three days out of four, one year, the 16th hole was the toughest, because the wind changes and there are water hazards there, and the wind is what really affects play for golf pros. If there is no wind they will eat you up. The wind is the equalizer for the golf pro. You start thinking about the three closing holes when you're on 13. You want to be three up by the time you get to the 16th tee, so you don't lose the match.”

Pictured below: Five stories above the 18th fairway, the back tees measure 469 yards on the par four, 18th Hole at Trump International Golf Club. Two golfcarts and golfers can be seen in the distance on generous forward tees.

(Florida’s #1 Golf Course Part 2 - Continued)
The World Class Par Threes of Trump International Golf Club

Page 19 From Winter 2011 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
To advertise in Florida Golf Magazine in print and on-line, phone 863-227-2751 and/or email