James Cusick

So where is “the world’s greatest golf course”? Ask Donald Trump

The entrepreneur has failed to create thousands of jobs through a supposed billion-pound investment that were key to approval for his hugely controversial golf resort

Related Topics

Like the Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal, or the Hajj in Mecca for Muslims, any golfer’s pilgrimage to Scotland has to include certain shrines:  St Andrews, Turnberry, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, and the Home of the Honourable Company at Muirfield. The game's history and legends are to be found in these places, and the key to their historical importance is their association with the greatest prize in golf – The Open Championship.

While Donald Trump and property ethics go together like Glengarry Glen Ross and The Nun’s Story, the billionaire salesman knew enough to touch base with the Royal and Ancient (R&A)  in St Andrews seven years ago when he flew to Scotland to discuss plans for his $1 billion dollar Aberdeenshire resort. He arrogantly told the secretary of golf’s ruling body, Peter Dawson, that  he was  going to build “the greatest golf course in the world” on the 2,000 acre Menie Estate.

Legend has it that Dawson, not a man easily conned, described the meeting as “interesting”. He asked Trump what architect he had in mind? When Trump said he’d  brought his own American designer, who had no experience of links land in Scotland, the R&A quietly suggested their choice, the Open specialist, Martin Hawtree. Trump duly obeyed.

If you intend to spend the GDP of a small country on two golf courses, a  luxury hotel, and million-dollar villas, you need regular plane loads of American and international golf pilgrims on their once-in-a-lifetime visit to the home of golf, to come to you and open their wallets. And to do that Trump needed his course on the Open rota.

Alex Salmond, himself a golfer, should have known that. Instead Scotland’s First Minister, seems to have lacked Dawson’s instinct to spot a fantasy sales pitch, and went out of his way to assist the by-passing, twisting and mangling of every planning regulation and environmental  interest in the tartan rule book in order to give Trump what he wanted.

Seven years down the line, Dawson and the R&A’s credibility, as expected, remains intact. Trump on the other has failed to muscle his way on to The Open list, and is said to have been furious when Dawson recently played down the chances of the PR-styled “Great Dunes of Scotland” ever hosting the great championship.

“Let’s see how it matures. I would say it has a long way to go,” said Dawson last year. In Florida or Chicago, say that to property developer and all hell will break lose.

So no Open, no real need for the £280m hotel, or the multi-million pound villas over-looking fairways not walked by Tiger Woods and not seen on US or Far East TV screens. Scotland’s First Minister, promised 6,000 jobs by ‘The Donald’ has been hung out to dry. In the words of Glengarry Glenn Ross, Trump arrived with bum leads and Salmond bought in, and has been left with only a wind-farm excuse for nothing happening.

So where is “The world’s greatest golf course”? That depends on where you ask. In Georgia, USA, it’s Augusta National. In Northern Ireland it’s Royal County Down; in New Jersey it’s certainly Pine Valley. And in Scotland ? Ask inside R&A in Scotland – and it sure as hell isn’t owned by Donald Trump.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Andy Coulson: With former News of the World editor cleared of perjury charges, what will he do next?

James Cusick James Cusick
Jack Warner  

Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Tom Peck
Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back