Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Turnberry Deal Risky for Trump

Nothing catches the Top 50 by surprise, so we did little more than spray a mouthful of hot cocoa when we read that Donald Trump has bought third-ranked Turnberry Resort of Ayrshire, Scotland. On the advice of counsel we quickly snapped up some tee times on Turnberry’s famed Ailsa Course, hoping to get in a few rounds before The Donald installs his waterfalls and concrete cart paths. Otherwise, we’ve gone about our business, rating golf courses with scientific rigor and unshakable integrity.

But in the sub-basement of Catch Basin, our Kansas City headquarters, the excitement is palpable. We’ve fired all the cubicle cuties who handled consumer complaints and replaced them with a corps of hard-edged, Wall Street bond salesmen. These guys, veterans of various pump-and-dump schemes and penny-stock swindles, are already making cold calls to avid core golfers.

Why? I’ll tell you why. It’s because Trump — a so-called “business genius” who now owns and operates 17 golf properties — has made the worst decision of his storied career. He has acquired Turnberry’s elegant cliff-top hotel, it’s true, and he now owns the resort’s three golf courses, including the incomparable Open Championship links that hosted 1977’s legendary “Duel in the Sun.” But he didn’t buy Ailsa Craig, the muffin-shaped island that dominates the view from the Turnberry lighthouse.

Trump’s tailor, if he’s sharp, is already embroidering the word “SUCKER” on the lapels of The Donald’s tux.

Turnberry Resort

The Turnberry Resort before its purchase by Donald Trump. Miguel Angel Jimenez and his caddie were not part of the deal. (John Garrity)

If you’re a loyal reader of this post, you know that my Top 50 Charitable Trust plans to purchase Ailsa Craig with funds donated by loyal readers of this post. The eighth Marquess of Ailsa has priced the iconic rock at $2.4 million, which is more than reasonable when you consider that the island is the exclusive source of microgranite for Olympic-class curling stones. Imagine its worth if some genius entrepreneur — not Trump! — captures the international market for game-improvement curling stones.

It was not profit, however, but a desire to preserve the view from Turnberry and protect a hunk of Scottish heritage that motivated our fund-raising drive. But now, with Trump in control of the relevant strip of Ayrshire coastline, we see a greater opportunity. As owners of Ailsa Craig, we will point out to Trump how our property enhances the value of his property and, with that in mind, mention how the perceived value of his Open venue might decline if someone were to erect a giant curtain around the island,* spoiling the view. Knowing how much the Donald detests environmental degradation — proved by his opposition to an offshore wind farm near 51st-ranked Trump International Golf Links of Aberdeenshire — we’re sure he’ll embrace an annual fee of a million bucks for viewing rights to Ailsa Craig. Or, if he’s so inclined, he can buy the island from us at a modest markup — say, $20 million?

*Recognizing that it would be costly to erect an actual fabric curtain around a 1,100-foot-tall island, we envision a World War II-style smoke screen laid down by speedy patrol boats. On many days, of course, the Scottish weather renders the island invisible at no additional cost.

We still have some work to do. As of 5 p.m. Thursday we’re roughly $2.399 million shy of our goal. That’s why it’s so important that you answer your phone, even when the screen says “No Caller I.D.” It could be one of our boiler-room boys, calling to get your pledge to our TRUMP TRUMP FOR THE GOOD OF SCOTLAND campaign.

And remember: No contribution is too small.

Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship is winding up at the 51st-ranked Quail Hollow Club, site of the 2017 PGA Championship. Quail Hollow’s Tom Fazio course, recently renovated by Tom Fazio, has long been a personal favorite, although I have never had the pleasure of playing it. Next week’s venue, 51st-ranked TPC Sawgrass, has never been a personal favorite, but I have had the pleasure of playing it. Coincidence?


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A Open Letter to Trump (from Duke)

“John,” writes our chief Asian correspondent, Duke Ishikawa, “could you give this note to Donald if you have any chance to reach him, please?”

I don’t expect to see “Donald” in the next couple of weeks, so I decided to post Duke’s letter here on the theory that Donald is following the site closely to see if his 51st-ranked Trump International Golf Links can break into the Top 50.

Mr.Donald Trump

Chairman, Trump International

From Duke Ishikawa (Tokyo International News)

Sir, I have two things to explain to you, please?

1. It will be a year and half, this coming September, since the March 11 disaster in Northern Japan. More than two hundred orphans were born from the earthquake and tsunami. They are still having a tough time. So we plan to have a charity skins game with Jumbo Ozaki, Isao Aoki and Tommy Nakajima. They are considered The Big 3 in Japan with more than 200 combined wins. They’ll play at the end of summer because kids’ school starts on Sept. 1

The first 16 holes will be for $500 or $1,000 each, then double for the last two holes. The three pros will donate 30% to 50% of their skins to the orphans for their schooling. We’ll be talking to leading TV stations to dover it, and I’m sure the AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, the New York Times and many U.S. media will cover it to. So my question is, is there a possibility of your sponsorship, please?

2. Tokyo is a candidate for the 2020 Summer Games, and surely golf will be continued as an Olympic event. But we don’t have good-enough courses in the Tokyo area. There are about 2,400 courses in Japan, but more than 90% of them are in mountain areas.That means far from where people live. Gas is a few times higher than US. We then have to pay more yen to the toll road. One bad example is the DIamond Cup, the men’s tournament held in June. They only  had 6,839 admission for all four days. Because the course was too far. No business at all.

So we need a new golf course near Tokyo. But it must be Japan’s first Stadium-Type Course. The new course should be near Tokyo Disneyland, which is not far from Narita Airport. The name should be California Golf Park (CGP).We pick up all eighteen holes from famous ones in California. They should be the 16th of Cypress Point, the 18th and 8th from Pebble Beach. The tenth of Riviera CC. (I took this idea from the Bear’s Best in Las Vegas.) The main entrance should be named Goldrush Road instead of Magnolia Lane. The clubhouse will look like the capitol building in Sacramento, and one of our honorable members will be the former CA governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I’d like the architect to be one from Crenshaw-Coore, Nicklaus himself (not with his sons), Nick Faldo and Jumbo Ozaki.

The first stadium-type course in Japan has a good future of business. We have more than thirty-million populations in the Tokyo metropolitan area, so it should be quite easy to collect 100,000 spectators for a tournament if we can provide enough facility. (The biggest number for a US Open gallery was 387,045 in 2005 at Pinhurst CC. )There are about fifty professional golf tournaments, both men and women, in Japan. Two or three of them could be held at the California Golf Park. Each one would collect more than one hundred thousand people. I would expect quite similar results as the Wentworth Club in London.

The Eisenhower Trophy will be in Japan in 2014. Then, possibly, the 2020 Olympic Game. The Presidents Cup in 2015 will be in Korea, but we have another chance to invite it to Japan, because it is a home and away game.Then not only Japan but also Mr. Finchem will be pleased to see his Presidents Cup return to Asia. That will provide big opportunities for the golf business in Japan and also the CGP itself.

We used spent more than $200 million to $250 million to build one course in Japan. But the costs now are much less. Japan is no longer Number One in costs. So if you build Japan’s first stadium-type course, you will be able to make a giant step for your real estate business in a new territory.

Respectfully, Duke Ishikawa

On second thought, I’m going to try to get Duke’s letter to The Donald. The first part, anyway; the part soliciting a donation for the Japanese orphans. The Tokyo stadium-course proposal I may hold back to show to my accountants at Catch Basin. It would be great to have a Top 50 course that was actually owned by the Top 50.

Morfit and Bamberger

Cameron Morfit (left) and Michael Bamberger were among the notables playing St. Annes Old Links on Friday evening. (John Garrity)

Top 50 on TV: Still nothing this week, but Friday evening I slipped away from the Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St. Annes to inspect the St. Annes Old Links of Lancashire, England. (Joining me were Sports Illustrated senior writer Michael Bamberger and GOLF Magazine senior writer Cameron Morfit.) Situated between the Pleasure Beach roller coaster and the more dignified neighborhoods of St. Annes, the Old Links is a modestly-duned and immaculately-maintained layout. There are bands of deep rough, but the playing corridors are wide enough to minimize ball searching and tame enough to encourage recovery shots. “These conditions are the sine qua non of links golf,” said Bamberger, who is wont to speak Latin or Greek when he’s on his game. “The English probably think of it as a working-man’s links, but if it were in America I’d rate St. Annes in the top one or two hundred.” I’d go even farther. I’d rate it No. 50 in the world.

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‘World’s Best Course’: Where Does It Rank?

“Save five or more spots on your next list for the new ‘Best Course in the World,’” writes golf architect Bill Amick, a Top 50 fixture. “That’s according to it’s developer, one of the world’s most humble persons.”

Filtering out the sarcasm, I infer that Amick wants us to take a look at the Trump International Golf Links of Aberdeen, Scotland, Donald Trump’s latest and most-ambitious golf project. But unbenownst to Amick, Trump-Aberdeen debuted last month at No. 51 on the strength of Travelin’ Joe Passov’s GOLF Magazine review, which was grudgingly favorable. “For all the hyperbole,” Joe wrote with gritted teeth, “Trump Scotland might turn out to be as good as advertised.”

No course cracks the Top 50 until it’s been rated by myself or by our ratings director, Gary Van Sickle. Neither of us, sad to say, has been able to get up to Aberdeen for a walkaround. In the meantime, we’re waiting to hear from Amick, who was invited to the grand opening by Trump Scotland’s designer, Martin Hawtree, who was celebrating the 100th anniversary of his firm.*

* Hawtree, known for his renovation of Royal Birkdale Golf Club and other Open Championship venues, has not been around that long. The firm, which describes itself as “The World’s Longest Continuous Golf Architectural Practice,” was founded in 1912 by Martin’s grandfather, Frederic George Hawtree, and carried on by his father, Frederic William Hawtree.

Judging solely from photographs, I’m inclined to put TIGL in the upper echelon of modern links courses, close behind sixth-ranked Castle Stuart, the eighth-ranked European Club, and 40th-ranked Kingsbarns. Had Trump not spent $155 million on it, I might even compare his Aberdeen track to the incomparable Askernish and Carne links, currently rated one-two. (Old Tom Morris designed the former for ten shillings per hole, while the great Eddie Hackett gave Carne seven years of his attention in return for a few expense checks, which he was loath to cash.)

“After Aberdeen I go to Ghana,” Amick concludes, “where I’m designing a dwarf course at a new eco lodge.”

Unsure of what constitutes a dwarf course, I Googled the term and found a YouTube video called “Dwarf Course 1,” which shows British teenagers running a playground obstacle course. “Eco Lodge,” meanwhile, linked me to a number of “green hotels,” including a treehouse lodge in the Australian rain forest. I could speculate on what Amick has in mind for West Africa, but I think I’ll just wait for his next e-mail.

Castle Stuart

Castle Stuart was built for windy conditions. Note the whitecaps on the Moray Firth. (John Garrity)

Top 50 on TV: Nothing this week, but Castle Stuart just concluded its second hosting of the Scottish Open with Jeev Milkha Singh claiming the trophy. “After three opening rounds of very low scoring, Castle Stuart finally bared its teeth,” reports the Associated Press. “A fierce westerly wind and heavy rain at times proved too much for top-ranked Luke Donald (73) and Phil Mickelson (74), who both finished tied for 16th at 12-under.” The AP doesn’t quantify how “fierce” the wind was, but I’ve played Castle Stuart in gusts of up to 65 mph, which blew my bag over, shattered my umbrella, and caused my ball to roll of its own accord on the back of the 12th green. That aside, the course was both playable and enjoyable. Castle Stuart deserves its sixth ranking.

It’s on to Royal Lytham & St. Annes (No. 132) for the Open Championship. Wet and windy weather is forecast.


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