Sunday, October 04, 2009

Golf Week Says Trump Not Playing the Game

There is an article in this week's Golf Week (hattip to Two Doctors) which remonstrates Trump's two headed move into Scottish golf.

First they are very strong about the recent decision of Aberdeenshire Council not ruling out compulsory nature. While there is nothing in the Royal and Ancient's Rules of Golf condemning it Golf Week says:

"The prospect of four families being turned out of their homes for the sake of a golf course does not bear thinking about. I’m sure whole villages have been shifted in other parts of the world to make room for golf courses, but we’re supposed to be civilized over here. Imagine what the families feel like not knowing if they are going to continue living in their own home."

Yes we are supposed to be civilised. The Rules of Golf rely on the competitor marking his own score card. Being honest about a muffed hit if it contacts the ball etc. the rules are very much gentlemanly. Trump may swing a club, but is he really playing the game in his approach to his Menie estate project.

Trump and his lawyers will be saying that they are scanning the full essence of the law, others will argue otherwise, however let's assume for a moment that they are. That may be the case but surely there is some room for the spirit of the laws and fair play as all golfers will tell you is as much part of the game as words in the little book in their bag.

But Trump will argue his he the saviour of the Aberdeenshire economy. This appears to be a line that many on Aberdeenshire Council and the Scottish Executive are taking as a written. Alistair Tait in Golf Week is prepared to stand up to the entrepreneur, better than many of his 'apprentices' and say that isn't necessarily so. He points to other Golf Leisure resorts including Open venue Turnberry where a recent £85 million investment from Leisurecorp is going to take a long time to recoup.

He goes on to say why an upstart should get going any better than an historic course like Turnberry, especially as the property developers mantra of location, location, location is somewhat against it. Turnberry down in Ayrshire has a longer season than Aberdeen, and longer late autumnal days as well.

But there are other financial reasons that Trump is facing, there are already a number of high-end golf resorts in Scotland. Many courses where you can spend £150 to play 18 holes, when they are many gems that are a lot cheaper to indulge in.

But then it goes on to the battle Trump has entered into at the home of golf St. Andrew's to try and acquire the old university residence of Hamilton 'Hammy' Hall. Townsfolk there are already upset that preferential tee times are being given to the wealthy patron of the Old Course Hotel and fear that the acquisition by Trump or Herb Kohler who owns the Old Course Hotel. However, there is a local hope in a consortium fronted by Richard Wax. The former course designer is concerned that another part of St. Andrews heritage would fall into the hands of only the wealthy elite, severing further the ancient message of accessibility for all. He says:

"The town’s core message is 'golf for all' but increasingly 'Private/Keep Out' signals are being generated to the detriment of the image of the town"

"Our project is conceived to regenerate the economic life of St. Andrews and Fife. It would bring quality business into town on a year-round basis for the benefit of hotels, bed and breakfasts and the commercial activity across the board."

We've yet to see how this second front of wealth seeping into golf turns out. But the fact that a top golfing publication is challenging the Trump project may well make the entrepreneur shank his opening drive out on the tee box this morning.

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