Page 28 From Winter 2012 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
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Towering Royal Palms separate the 1st Tee and practice tee at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump International’s Five Star Golf Experience
Variety, Conditioning, Beauty, Playability & Challenge

Part 1 -
Florida's #1 Golf Course, Trump International Golf Club

by Joe Stine, Editor - Editor, Florida Golf Magazine

         While standing on the first tee of the Championship Course at Trump International Golf Club in beautiful West Palm Beach, Florida, I ventured to ask my golf partner PGA Master Professional, Dr. Gary Wiren what he thought it was that makes the original 18 holes at Trump International Golf Club so great? Dr. Wiren looked at me and the photographer who was assisting us that day, (Ken E. May) and without hesitation gave us what sounded like a well rehearsed dissertation. “I can think of five major elements that stand out when you play this course,” said Dr. Wiren. Variety of hole designs, Conditioning, Beauty, and Playability coupled with Challenge.”

Photographer Ken May and Gary Wiren, Sr. Director of Instruction for all Trump Golf Properties are photographed here by Editor, Joe Stine. Standing on the 1st Tee Dr. Wiren began his explaination of what he called the Trump International Five Star Golf Experience, which features abundant Variety, Conditioning, Beauty, Playability & Challenge.

         “In regard to conditioning,” said Gary, “Trump International is the best maintained golf course in Florida. What’s more, the Championship Course has 18 freshly rebuilt MiniVerde® greens that roll like a table top at Stimpmeter readings of 11 to 12; impeccable bunkering that provides a consistent quality and amount of sand; fairways that are immaculate, and roughs that are meticulously maintained to add a challenge without being severely penal.
         Now, conditioning might be considered a major portion of the beauty factor, but don’t kid your self, because a great deal of the beauty at Trump International is by design. In fact, Variety, Conditioning, Beauty, Playability & Challenge were all very much major considerations for Architect Jim Fazio during his design process here at Trump International. But, I would also have to say that the greatest attributes designed into this course is its unending variety.”

PGA Master Professional, Dr. Gary Wiren

         “Speaking of the design”, said Dr. Wiren, “One test of a great golf course is the ability of the players to not tire of ever playing it. At Trump International that feeling starts on the panoramic elevated practice tee that entices you to want to stay and hit balls. But then, when you get on the course you’re glad you didn’t because there you find such inspirational beauty. The landscaping and diversity of the vegetation is tremendously striking.
         “I have always felt that esthetics add a tremendous amount to the enjoyment of the round and you get it in spades here at Trump International,” said Gary. “Jim Fazio has also provided such variety in the design of the holes, particularly on the back nine. There, no two holes even slightly resemble one another in their look or the challenges they present. By the time you get to hole #15, one of the most beautiful I have ever played, you think you have seen it all. But the three closers, #16, #17, and #18 will test your nerve and your ball supply. When you conquer them you leave with a great feeling of love for the game and the course.”
         Then Dr. Wiren pointed out, “Another interesting design feature at Trump International is that there is water on 14 holes. This means you had better be on your game if you are trying to take the shortest route on your drive or when you want to attack a flagstick for your approach. Also, because of the size of some of the greens and their contours, the location of the flag can add considerably to the decision making process. Putting your shot on the green, but in the wrong place, may test your ability to two-putt, let alone make it.”

Variety by Design
         Dr. Wiren then said to this editor, “While we play today, I will point out, for you and our photographer, ten different holes that I think exemplify the type of variety-by-design that we enjoy so fervently here at Trump International.” We will look at the 1st and 6th holes as examples of diverse LONG & SHORT holes. We will also look at the 4th and 10th holes as examples of diverse DOG LEG LEFT & DOG LEG RIGHT holes. We will compare the 1st and 6th holes as diverse examples of WELCOMING & TERRIFYING holes. We will look at the 14th and 18th holes as examples of holes PLAYING UP to a green & PLAYING DOWN to a fairway. And, we also look at the 3rd and 15th as extremely diverse examples of golf holes with WATER LEFT of the green & WATER RIGHT of the green.

The first two of our ten superb examples of variety-by-design are the long and short 1st & 6th holes at Trump International Golf Club.
THE LONG - Hole #1 at TIGC is a very long 475 yard par 4 hole that can be tough to reach in two. It is what Mr. Trump calls an “opening statement” that besides the length off the tee has water on the right, bunkers to the right, long right, and long left, hitting into the prevailing wind toward an elevated bunkered green with a steep drop off on the right.

& THE SHORT - Below: Hole #6 at Trump International is a short par four 335 yard hole around a large water hazard that is driveable for a long hitter. The green sits at an angle to the tee so that holding the green on a tee shot becomes most difficult at best. A large rise in the green offers a real putting challenge if the flagstick is in the back. This can however, be a risk reward opportunity with the risk greater than the reward.

The next two of our ten superb examples of diverse variety-by-design are the DOG LEG LEFT and DOG LEG RIGHT 4th & 10th holes at Trump International.

DOG LEG LEFT - Below: Hole # 4 is a medium length par four, 384 yard dogleg left hole that with a good drive can be reached with a middle or short iron that challenges you on the second shot. There is water to the right of the green while a shot hit to the left into the bunkers or rough leaves you hitting to a green that is difficiult to hold as it slopes away from this shot towards the water.

& DOG LEG RIGHT - Below: Hole #10 is an intimidating dog leg right 419 yard par 4. The starting holes on both the front nine and back nine at Trump International get your attention. Hole #1 because of its length and #10 because of the large water hazard that makes it a dogleg hole. Making the tee shot even more of a challenge on #10 is an out-of-bounds to the left and the strong chance of a lost ball if you hit it perfectly straight, but too far and into the trees that border the fairway as it turns to the right.


Next, we'll compare the WELCOMING & TERRIFYING 9th and 17th holes as two diverse examples of variety-by-design

Below: Hole # 11 is a lovely treat. You come over the hill from #10 and there before you is this attractive welcoming 177 yard par 3 hole. Meandering down the right side of the fairway is a tumbling brook which is more for beauty than for challenge. But two large bunkers to the left of this sloped green will be the recipients of many golf shots coming from all handicap levels.

Below: The finishing holes at Trump International are very strong, particularly #17, a 215 yard monster shot to an island green. There is no room for error here and the number of balls per foursome that play this hole that end up submerged is roughly three. It is just a plain scary shot. If you move up to a shorter tee that helps but doesn't eliminate the balls from going into the water.

Continuing with our variety-by-design showcase, we will now look at the 14th and 18th holes as examples of holes PLAYING UP to a green & PLAYING DOWN to a fairway.

PLAYING UP to a green
Below: One of the many interesting shots that you face at Trump International is the shot up to the very elevated 14th. green on this 413 yard par 4. Besides accounting for the added distance the elevation may require you must negotiate some heavy bunkering. The most difficult bunker recoveries you face on the course are on the right.

& PLAYING DOWN to a fairway
Below: There is something special about playing from a mountain top tee down to an attractive landing area. On the home hole at Trump you get that opportunity. #18 is a very demanding 469 yard hole with water coming into play both on the drive and on the second shot. With the clubhouse in the background your shot to the green becomes not only challenging but at the same time, esthetically pleasing.

And, for our last two variety-by-design examples, we'll look at the 3rd and 15th at Trump International as being extremely diverse golf holes with WATER LEFT & WATER RIGHT of the green.

WATER LEFT of the green
Below: Hole #3, the first of the par fives on the Trump International course at 539 yds., offers a "go for the green in two" temptation. You had better have your a laser-like fairway club in hand as there is a stream coming from an attractive waterfall that hugs the green on the left side with the rough sloping toward it. That plus the bunkers on the right with the green sloped away from you certainly catches your attention when the decision time for trying to hit the green in two comes around.

& WATER RIGHT of the green
Below: On the back nine the par 5 15th. hole is 550 yards of a gorgeous challenge that has a water course meandering down what appears to be almost the middle of the fairway. There is adequate room to hit your tee shot but then any attempt to reach the green will most certainly tighten up your swing. That is because the "wee wandering water" will get you if the dense stand of palms to the left doesn't. This hole makes you gasp in awe of its beauty when we come around the bend from the previous hole and first view it.

         In regard to the playability of his design of the original 18 holes at Trump International, Designer Jim Fazio said it best in a 2005 interview with Florida Golf Magazine.
         “Something else that lots of people really like about Trump International is that it is very playable,” said Jim Fazio. It's rated hard from the back tees, but it's not rated hard from the front tees. They may not know that, but they know they enjoy it.”
         “With the trees, creeks and the rocks and the tinkling sound of the water,” Jim said, “I've never heard anybody 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.”

2005 Interview: Trump & Editor,
Joe Stine on 10th Tee at TIGC
         When asked, Mr. Trump also spoke fondly about the Jim Fazio’s design of the Championship Course at Trump International. “People often ask me what I consider to be the signature hole at Trump International” said Mr. Trump in a 2005 interview. “Some people say 17 because of the big waterfall. Some people say 15, because it's the most picturesque. But when people ask what is my favorite golf hole, I usually pick three different holes, a par 3, a par 4 and a par 5. For a par 3, I would pick #7 because it's a pure golf hole. For a par 4, I like #14 because it's so unusual for a Florida golf course. It's like something you'd have up north, and for a par 5, #15 is the prettiest hole we have because of the elevation and the creek."
         “For a pure golf hole, I think #9 is hard to beat, but Gary Wiren likes #3. Then, Trump added, “When you have a hard time picking out your favorite holes or the best holes, you've got a pretty good golf course, because no one can really make up their mind which is the best hole or the prettiest.”

The 539 yard long par five 3rd Hole at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Gary Wiren's Favorite Hole?
         As we approached the tee off on the 3rd Hole, I remembered what Mr. Trump had said about it being Dr. Wiren’s favorite golf hole at Trump International, so I asked the Director of Golf Instruction at Trump International Golf Club, why he likes the 539 yard, par 5, 3rd hole so much. He said, “I like any golf hole that makes you think about options, and requires you to play intelligently to challenge par. For instance, If you are not playing into the wind on this hole, and you are a long hitter, the thought certainly has to cross your mind to go for the green in two. But to do so, the drive must first be strategically placed between a tree where the fairway ends and a series of bunkers that guard the right side of the hole. Getting that done (which is no easy task) you are then left with a 200 yard plus shot to a devilishly placed green. An attractive stream, for both your eye and to your ball, guards the green on the left and back.
         Landing in one of the bunkers on the right side leaves you with a shot to the green that slopes away from you. A lay up rather than a risky long shot again gives you choices. Reasonably safe, or somewhat risky, depending upon whether you want your next shot to be 120 or 50 yards. Once on the dance-floor you’ll find that it’s not the easiest green to read either. So, hole number three is a perfect example of a risk/reward opportunity, maybe a four, maybe a seven. And that’s the kind of hole that makes golf interesting.”
         After commenting about the wind affecting play on the 3rd hole, the Head Golf Instructor, thought for a moment and then added, “Jim Fazio also took great care to design the hard holes against the favoring wind, so if and when the wind does turns around we still have a balanced variety, especially since all the par 5 holes run in different directions. All of our par 3 holes also run in different directions.”

The back tees of the 553 yard par 5, Ninth Hole at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Course Owner
         At one point during our round Dr. Wiren took us a couple of holes over to the ninth hole to meet the course owner, Donald J. Trump. Accompanied by a small entourage which included a caddy and a security guard dressed like a caddy, Dr. Wiren introduced us to his boss saying, “Mr. Trump, you remember Joe Stine from Florida Golf Magazine. And as we shook hands, Gary then introduced our photographer friend, saying, Mr. Trump, this is Joe’s associate Ken May. He’s Pete Dye’s photographer.
         Impressed, Trump shook Ken’s hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you Ken,” and then added, “Pete Dye is great guy who I respect very much. Will you please tell him that I said hello the next time you see him?” “I surely will Mr. Trump,” replied our photographer, “and it’s very nice to meet you also, sir.”

Mr. Trump on the 9th Hole at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Florida on 12/26/2011.

         With the formality of introductions out of the way, the conversation turned back to the golf course. “How do you fellas like the greens,” asked Mr. Trump? “They’re very fast,” we all answered.
         Then, after turning on a small audio recorder that I was carrying, I asked our host, “What kind of grass did you use, Mr. Trump?” To which Trump immediately replied, “We rebuilt all 18 greens of the Championship Course this summer with MiniVerde® Bermudagrass.” Trump then said, “They say that the Tifdwarf we originally put on the course is known to mutate after a while, and since it had been there for eleven years, it was time to change it.”
         “Also,” added Trump, “the topsoil of the greens had become contaminated with organic matter over the years, so we stripped all the grass and about four inches of topsoil from all 18 greens. Then, we replaced the top four inches with USGA spec. green-mix which is about 85% sand and 15% peat. This special sand mix facilitates proper drainage even when rolled with a heavy greens roller. Then, after fumigating the green area to kill any of the old tifdwarf, we sprigged all 18 greens with the newer, more advance strain of MiniVerde® Bermuda grass which is said, not to mutate.”
         “Unlike other ultradwarfs,” continued Trump, “MiniVerde® is said to produce deep roots and is quick to recover from maintenance practices, allowing us to achieve a tighter, faster, and more consistent putting surface, that is second to none. We also replaced a 40 inch wide collar around every green with Celebration™ bermudagrass which has a beautiful bluish tint to it.”
         Impressed with Mr. Trump knowledge of golf course maintenance, I asked, “How long did it take to grow in?” Trump thought for a moment, and then replied, “Well, we sprigged the greens on July 1st, so I would say it only took about 30 days for the MiniVerde® to get well established. But, we didn’t start playing on them until October 15th. So, all together it took three and a half months for the 18 greens to really get filled in.
         With the audio recorder still running, I said to the 6’ 3” billionaire, “You're pretty much a hands on kind of guy as far as working on the golf course is concerned, aren't you, Mr. Trump?” Trump replied, “You know Joe, the thing is I really love doing it. This golf course is so beautiful and I’m so very proud of it. This is fun for me.”
         “What’s more,” said Trump, “next summer we’re also going to replant all the fairways of the original 18 holes with Celebration™ bermudagrass.” Then, with a smile and a wink, Mr. Trump said, “Then, Florida’s Best Golf Course will be even better!”

Part 1 - Florida's #1 Golf Course, Trump International Golf Club

Page 28 From Winter 2012 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
To advertise in Florida Golf Magazine in print and on-line, phone 863-227-2751 and/or email