** DISCLAIMER** This blog is devoted to golf. I realize given the recent Twitter comments from our President that some may have an issue with this post. Yes, the President's comments on Thursday morning were tasteless and beneath the office of the President of the US. I have chosen a narrow focus in examining his impact on golf. His conduct and impact on the issues confronting the future of our country and the world are for debate in other forums, not here.
You probably did not notice this week , but Trump Turnberry had another re-opening of a golf course. While the acclaimed Ailsa Course was renovated and re-opened last year, highlighted by a personal visit by Trump himself, the old Kintyre Course at the resort was also undergoing renovations.
Today, the newly-named Robert the Bruce Course was re-opened. And, while you may not politically agree with our current President, one must admit that his company’s overseeing of re-shaping and producing great golf courses and facilities must be applauded.
Martin Hawtree designed Trumps International Golf Links in Aberdeen Scotland in 2007. It opened and was immediately recognized as one of the top courses in the United Kingdom & Ireland. There is another 18-hole course rumored to being built there.
Architects McKenzie and Ebert worked on the recent renovations to the Ailsa Course at Turnberry last year. The building of new tees, re-routing of the spectacular coastal holes and restoration of the course to some of its pre-WWII identity has moved it to the top of the GB&I list of greatest courses in 2017. Having played Turnberry prior to the renovation, I can say that it had lost some of its luster, mostly through conditioning. Now, it is truly back to being one of the best courses in the world because of the reimagining of the Ailsa. There is no question in my mind that the Ailsa must be put back into the Open rota of golf courses! Politics may not allow this to happen now, but there is no question the infrastucture is in place and the course is better than when it hosted previous Opens.
Now, to go along with the Ailsa, Trump’s Turnberry team has turned what was a rather bland and pedestrian companion into a true gem, featuring its own coastal holes and own identity. The Robert the Bruce Course renovation was also done by McKenzie and Ebert.
In the US, I personally saw the changes in a course since he took ownership of the old Lowes Island Club and renamed it Trump International Golf Club DC. He has reinvigorated the design and layout, combined with beautiful views of the Potomac River. It was also host to the 2017 Senior PGA Championship a few weeks ago. Trump National Bedminster will host the US Women’s Open in just a few weeks.
Whether he acquired these courses because the previous owners were struggling financially or he decided to build them on his own, there is one simple fact. He has improved the clubs/courses under his ownership and gives golfers (both public and private/members at the clubs) an opportunity to play on some fantastic layouts at some wonderful facilities. I know, our latest view of President Trump was of him driving a cart on the green. I agree, he shouldn’t have done that…but he was at a place he does own. That behavior is an argument for another day. Trump the businessman has offered up some impressive courses in his massive golf portfolio.
My point is that he has an obviously love for the game and made golf part of his business empire. He has hired great architects and has shown a reverence for the game and its history with his designs/renovations (see Turnberry). If you leave politics out of this, all golfers must be thankful for the changes and improvement he has overseen at his facilities and the gems which we can choose to play. His involvement and ownership in golf has overall been positive for the game.
Believe it or not, there is already some absurdity being mentioned (usually on Twitter) when it comes to how the decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union will affect the game of golf. So, I thought I would list some things on how the Brexit will (or will not) affect the golf industry.
1. The US will still play Europe in the Ryder Cup--Even though the UK is leaving the European Union, the Ryder Cup will still be staged between players from the two continents. Technically, the UK is on the European continent...they are just leaving the economic and governing structure known as the EU. So, for all of those people hoping the US could go back to dominating the Ryder Cup by just playing English/UK players....think again.
2. In the foreseeable short term, the cost of playing golf and traveling to the UK will decrease--The British Pound fell to a 30-year low against the US Dollar immediately this morning upon the UK referendum results. The cost for golf trips, greens fees, hotels...really anything in the UK will immediately decrease in cost for US travelers because of the exchange rates. Likewise, any products you like t purchase from the UK (Twining's Tea, HP Sauce, etc.) will also take less out of your pocket. Donald Trump already said Brexit will bring more people to his renovated Turnberry...you may not like him, but he is right on this issue.
3. Travel between Ireland and Northern Ireland MAY be affected--Ireland is part of the European Union and there has not been a border check between there and Northern Ireland since the Troubles. With the UK (which Northern Ireland is a part of) out of the European Union, there is talk of adding a border check at the IRE/NI border. Now, you can stay in Dublin and drive straight up to play courses like Royal County Down or Ardglass in about 2 hours. With a border crossing and customs check...you better add at least a 1/2 hour to this trip...making your golf day-trip just a bit longer and bothersome. Stay tuned on this issue.