There’s a case to be made, and the Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf has made it, that covering Donald Trump is a waste of time and only encourages him to pretend he’s interested in running for president or buying the Buffalo Bills. The problem is, there are beats where Trump’s word really does matter.
Take golf, for example. The Trump Organization owns 18 courses around the world, including famous courses like Doral’s Blue Monster, which will be hosting the WGC-Cadillac Championship this weekend. Trump bought the entire 800 acre complex — which includes a resort and four other courses — out of bankruptcy in 2012 for $150 million. He then spent $250 million renovating the whole property, which included demolishing and rebuilding the Blue Monster from scratch. It’s the kind of project a golf writer like Steve DiMeglio of USA Today Sports would want to hear about.
Unfortunately, that means having to talk to Jack Nicklaus and hear how Trump’s spending is “terrific for the game,” a sentiment echoed by PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who said that Trump is helping courses live up to their “true potential.”
Based on the comments of architect Gil Hanse, who worked with Trump on the Blue Monster reboot, Trump’s design philosophy is inspired more by Michael Bay than Tom Doak or Donald Ross. In an interview with Florida Golf Magazine last spring, Hanse revealed that when his team started to realize the sheer size of the Blue Monster footprint, Trump approached them and said, “‘Hey, lets just make it bigger and better.” Trump preemptively defended the changes before last year’s tournament, conceding that “it is big and it is bold, and it is larger than it ever was before, but the players love it because it’s fair.”
Except, they didn’t love it. “Way tougher,” Dustin Johnson said. Luke Donald played the dreaded “unfair” card. Patrick Reed won with a score of four shots under par. All told, players lost 316 balls to the water during the four-day event, obliterating the old record of 218, per Back9Network.
Never let it be said that Trump’s courses aren’t aesthetically pleasing. Trump proved himself ignorant of both the game’s history and hottest design trend — minimalism — on Twitter last year while watching the U.S. Open unfold on Pinehurst No. 2, recently restored by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw to reflect the course’s original 1907 Donald Ross design.
(This from a man whose Trump International Golf Club sits in the shadow of the Palm Beach County Jail.)
Surely, he must revere and celebrate the mysteries of Scotland like every other golfer who has ever lived? He does not! Donald Trump kind of hates Scotland because they put up 11 wind turbines in the North Sea in the vicinity of where he wanted to build a golf course. He wrote editorials calling Alex Salmond, head of Scotland’s government, a “madman.”
After a vow to never do business in Scotland again, he caved long enough to buy Turnberry just in time to host the British Open. He’s still debating whether to put his name on it, but a plan to turn the course’s 9th hole, a 454-yard Par 4 (“Our little Pebble Beach,” Colin Montgomerie said) into a Par 3 is in the works. Because clearly, it needs improving.