Pages 23-35 From Winter 2013 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
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The back tees of the 553 yard par five, Ninth Hole at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

In Beautiful Palm Beach County:
The 2013 Editor's Choice For Florida's Best Golf Course
Trump International Golf Club

by Joe Stine, Editor
(Photos courtesy of TIGC)

          Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach County Florida is rightfully being proclaimed by Florida Golf Magazine as the “2013 Editor’s Choice for Florida’s Best Golf Course.” Those who play it know that TIGC is much more than that. In the words of its designer, Golf Course Architect and ‘Renaissance Man’ Jim Fazio, “Trump International is a pure golf experience.”
          When Florida Golf Magazine recently returned to West Palm Beach to play the Championship Course (built in 1997-99) at Trump International Golf Club we found that the greens which were re-grassed less than two years ago with MiniVerde® bermudagrass had matured to perfection. Undoubtedly one of the best maintained golf courses in the world, Trump International Golf Club is actually a 27-hole facility, and all of its greens have always been lightning fast, but with the new turf they are as fast and true as any tournament-ready greens in Florida.

Shown in this aerial photograph, the 17th Hole at Trump International Golf Club is partially encompassed by the 18th fairway.
(Photos courtesy of TIGC)

Conditions at Trump International Golf Club

          Variety of hole designs, as well as the golf course’s conditioning and beauty were major considerations for Fazio during his design process at Trump International, but it’s just as certain that coupling “playability” with “challenge” was also a top priority in his thinking.
          As Dr. Gary Wiren, Sr. Director of Instruction for all Trump Golf Properties, said, “Conditioning might be considered a major portion of the beauty factor, but don't kid yourself, a great deal of the beauty at Trump International is by design. In fact, what makes this the single greatest golf course I have ever played is its unending variety-by-design.”

Towering Royal Palms separate the 1st Tee and “world’s best” practice tee at Trump International Golf Club.

          “Speaking of the design,” said 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.”

The view from atop the highest of nine elevated tees, five stories above the split fairway, on the 561 yard, par five, #15. On this hole you should play the tee shot left of the creek and the lay-up to the right of the creek. Accuracy is important on the approach into the shallow, sloping green.

          Arguably the state’s most beautiful golf hole, the par five, 15th hole at Trump International has nine different tee boxes, and plays 561 yards from the back tees to 401 yards at the forward tees. The most impressive is the tee box pictured above at 535 yards. Towering more than five stories above the fairway, this tee box could easily double as a helicopter landing pad.

Looking back from the bridge, beside #15 green

          The 15th hole is 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 any attempt to reach the green will most assuredly tighten up your swing. That’s 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. As Dr. Wiren said, “Esthetics add a tremendous amount to the enjoyment of a round of golf and you get it in spades here.”

The 7,350 yard Championship Course at Trump International Golf Club (Photo courtesy of The Hole View)

Unending Variety of Hole Designs

          Another interesting design feature at Trump International,” said Dr. Wiren, “is that there is water on 14 holes of the Championship Course. 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 shot. 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.”

          Designer Jim Fazio has also provided much variety in the design of the holes at TIGC,” continued Dr. Wiren. “No two holes even slightly resemble one another in their look or in the challenges they present. Though it’s one of the most beautiful golf holes you will ever play, the 15th in no-way overshadows the beauty and challenge of the three closing holes. When you conquer 16, 17, and 18 you leave with a great feeling of love for the game and the course.”

#16 at TIGC

Back tees of 413 yard par 4, Hole #16 at Trump International Golf Club

Shown in this aerial photograph, the 16th Hole at Trump International Golf Club is in the middle foreground & the 10th Hole is in the background. (Photo courtesy of TIGC)

          Hole #16 is a tricky 406 yard par four that requires not only a partially blind tee shot, but also an intimidating approach shot over water to a two tiered green which is also guarded from behind by two menacing bunkers on the right.

Dr. Gary Wiren hits an approach to the difficult Hole #16.

#17 at TIGC

The 219 yard par three 17th Hole at beautiful Trump International Golf Club (Photos courtesy of TIGC)

          The finishing holes at Trump International are very strong, particularly Hole #17, a 219 yard monster shot to an island green that requires accurate distance in order to avoid the water in front and behind the 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.

The view from behind the green of the par three 17th Hole at Trump International
(Photos courtesy of TIGC)

#18 at TIGC

Mr. Trump is seen here teeing off from the back tee of the 18th Hole of the Championship Course at Trump International.

          There’s something special about playing from a mountain top tee down to an attractive landing area. On the home hole at TIGC you get that opportunity. Hole #18 is a 469 yard par four, with water down the right of the elevated tee coaxing golfers to keep their tee shots left. This in turn leaves a longer approach shot into a well-guarded green, all within view from the clubhouse.

The view from the clubhouse veranda of the 18th green of the Championship Course at Trump International.

The consummate golfer, Donald J. Trump, is seen here teeing off on the 413 yard par 4, 14th hole at Trump International Golf Club.

          In regard to construction, designer-builder Jim Fazio said, “We started the job 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 explains. “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 the golf course was built, day by day.”
          Jim concluded by giving his assessment of the holes. “The three closing holes, 16, 17 and 18, are really great golf holes. 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. One year, three days out of the four day tournament, the 16th hole was the toughest, because of wind changes and the water hazards. 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.”

Playability at Trump International Golf Club

          The spectacular design features of the Championship Course at Trump International make it extremely challenging, yet it can arguably be called Florida’s most scenic and enjoyable golf course to play. With six sets of tees, the Championship Course measures 7,326 challenging yards from the par 72 back tees, and 5,314 very playable yards from the par 73 forward tees, making it very much in line with the new PGA and USGA “Tee it Forward” initiatives.
          In regard to the playability of his design of the original 18 holes at Trump International, Designer Jim Fazio said, “Something else that a lot 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. 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,” Fazio 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.”

The island green of the 153 yard, par three 8th Hole of the the “New Trump Nine” at Trump International Golf Club.

The New “Trump Nine”
at Trump International Golf Club

          Built in 2006, the third nine holes at Trump International Golf Club, which were also designed by Jim Fazio, are referred to as the “New Trump Nine.” Though unique in its own right, this newer par 36, nine holes course measures 3,605 yards from the back tees and is every bit as challenging as the original 18 holes. Though very much a formidable challenge from the back tees, the forward tees of the “New Trump Nine” are also designed with playability for golfers of all skill levels in mind. Beauty and nature also abounds on the third nine holes and its signature hole is a spectacular island green that rivals any in the world and must be seen to be believed.
          It is evident that Jim once again put his heart and soul into his work on the “New Trump Nine.” Jim Fazio is a true master artisan of golf course design. Back in the 60s, he and his younger brother Tom Fazio were originally trained in golf course design and construction by their uncle George Fazio, who was a famed professional golfer. Tom became the most sought after golf course architect in the world, but he would be the first to tell you that his big brother Jim is every bit as good as he is.

Donald J. Trump in front of the 215 yard, par 3, 17th hole at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

          Interrupting Mr. Trump’s impromptu dissertation, I asked, “What is thatch?” Hesitating but a moment, he replied, “Well, the grass doesn’t just grow out of the top; it grows down in the soil too. And, what’s growing in your soil is your thatch. When you mow grass, the only thing you’re mowing is the leaf. But, there’s more to a grass plant than just the leaves. There are the roots and the stems which make up the thatch.”
          “Now, as I was saying,” said Trump. “Soil tests tell the superintendent how much potassium, phosphorous, and other nutrients and additives are needed for the plant’s health, but on the putting green, nitrogen is what makes things grow. You want to put enough down so the grass is healthy, but not so much that it slows your putting speeds down. And that,” said Mr. Trump, “is the fine line the superintendent is always walking. If he uses too much, the greens get slower. Everybody knows that nitrogen makes plants grow. That’s what makes it green. But, on the other hand if you put too much down, then the greens get too slow.”
          “That is the artistic part of what my superintendent does, it’s not like a recipe where you do this, this and this. It depends on the weather, it depends on the temperature, how wet it is, etc.”
“Speaking of superintendents, Mr. Trump,” I said, “your superintendent, Andy Kjost (pronounced-Joast) is pretty good, isn’t he?” “Andy is great,” said Trump. He has been with me for over 10 years. He is the very best!”

“Membership Has Its Privileges” at Trump International Golf Club

          Trump International Golf Club is a club for golf purists, and its members are by far some of the most affluent golfers in the world. And at Trump International, as the saying goes, “Membership definitely has its privileges.”
          The lucky members of Trump International Golf Club also enjoy reciprocity at over a dozen different Trump Golf Properties worldwide, including Mr. Trump’s most recent Florida golf course acquisitions, Trump Doral Resort & Spa and Trump National Jupiter.
          It’s true, Florida is and always will be a great golf destination, and there’s certainly no shortage of great golf courses here, nor great architects. But, it is also equally true that there is no finer golf course to be found in the Sunshine State than Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, nor is there one that exemplifies a purer golf experience.

Pages 23-35 From Winter 2013 Florida Golf Magazine ©Copyright 2013, All Rights Reserved. Subscribe at
To advertise in Florida Golf Magazine in print and on-line, phone 863-227-2751 and/or email