Trump loses £3.5m in one year from Turnberry golf course

Documents filed with British government show site failing to turn a profit for fourth consecutive year

David A. Fahrenthold
Friday 05 October 2018 11:53
Trump on 'hardships' he has faced: 'My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars'

President Donald Trump's Turnberry golf course in Scotland – one of his largest investments and the site of a presidential visit this summer – lost $4.5m (£3.5m) in 2017, its fourth consecutive year in the red.

The loss was detailed in documents filed by the Trump Organisation with the British government and posted online on Thursday.

They showed that, in the three years after Mr Trump bought the iconic Scottish golf club, Turnberry was a sinkhole for cash. In all, Mr Trump has spent at least $212m on the property – $67m to buy it and an additional $144m to renovate it and sustain its ongoing losses.

Mr Trump still owns his businesses, although he has given over day-to-day management to his eldest sons.

The figures from Turnberry were another sign that Mr Trump's businesses have suffered during his presidency – as his rise as a polarising political figure has alienated the rich, urban customers whom his hotels and golf courses seek to attract.

Mr Trump's company has already lost hotels in Panama, Toronto and New York's SoHo neighbourhood, as the building owners cut ties with his brand. In New York and Chicago, Mr Trump's expensive hotels have also seen a decline in business since 2015, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post.

At least some parts of Mr Trump's golf empire have struggled during the same period: Public data has shown downturns at his courses in California and New York City, and ongoing losses at his club in Ireland and both courses in Scotland.

Of Mr Trump's Scottish courses, Turnberry is the jewel: a landmark seaside course with a large hotel, which hosted the British Open four times. When Mr Trump bought it in 2014, he hoped the competition would return and allow him to host one of golf's premier events. So far, it has not.

Mr Trump spent millions on the property, renovating both its golf courses. By early 2017, both had reopened and the club's general manager predicted to The Guardian that it would finally turn a profit.

"We'll make a profit this year - it will be the first time we have made a good profit in the 14 years I have worked here," Turnberry's general manager Ralph Porciani said in January 2017

That did not happen. The new filings show that revenue nearly doubled in 2017. But it still was not enough to cover the club's rising costs.

In the filings, the Trump Organisation did not offer any explanation for the losses.

In another recent interview, Mr Porciani said this year would be the real test of the club.

"2018 is really our baseline year to start making Turnberry a sustainable business," he said.

Mr Trump bought Turnberry and his other Scottish course near Aberdeen without taking out mortgage loans, an unusual move in an industry where few large properties are bought with all-cash.

In the same period, from 2006 to 2014, Mr Trump also purchased 12 other properties in the same way, without mortgages – a remarkable spending spree that defied his own self-proclaimed status as "the king of debt". His son Eric Trump, who now helps run the Trump Organisation, has said the company used cash simply because it had so much of it, from the revenue of its hotels, commercial buildings and other golf clubs.

Mr Trump's other Scottish course has not yet posted its 2017 revenue figures, according to the British government.

The Washington Post

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