The Local Knowlege

Courses & Travel

Q&A: Donald Trump on his new course in Scotland and his contributions to golf

Donald Trump. I’ve met the man a few times. The first time was in the late 90s, when I was the golf photo editor for Sports Illustrated. As I recall, Trump was writing an article for the Golf Plus section of the magazine, and I went over to his office in New York to help coordinate the photo shoot. Simon Bruty was the photographer, and when we arrived, Trump wasn’t there. We were allowed to go into his office, overlooking Central Park, to set up lights, etc. As Bruty was doing his thing, I couldn’t help but look around. Trump’s desk was a mess. Not unlike the desk of Tiger Woods, which I saw when I was once allowed into his house. Papers everywhere.

Among the items on Trump’s desk was a note from George Steinbrenner: “Enjoy the game,” it said. And there were four tickets attached. I remember a Shaquille O’Neal basketball shoe. And a large collection of putters in the corner. One was all gold. Or, so I assumed. I picked that one up and started putting with it. At one point I picked up his phone, and in front of a wall of magazine covers, all featuring Trump, I did my best impersonation. At which point, Bruty snapped this photo:

Matt_Trump.jpgWhen Trump arrived he ducked into his private bathroom to wash his hands and fix that magnificent head of hair. When I suggested he remove his coat for the photo, which looked a lot like the photo of me, he declined. He said he wanted to conceal his love handles.
 
Like him or not, and there’s rarely any in between, Trump has pumped a lot of time, energy and money into the game of golf. And whether you like his courses or not, you have to respect his passion for whatever he does. Personally, I’m a Mike Keiser guy, which is to say I like a minimalist approach to course and clubhouse design. And therefore, I guess I’m not a Trump guy. 
 
Or, so I thought. 
 
Earlier this week a video was released, showcasing Trump’s new course in Aberdeen, which is called Trump International Golf Links.

The music gets annoying, but the pictures are amazing. Designed by Dr. Martin Hawtree, it seems as though the dunes were built around an already existing course.


Inspired, I put in a request to talk to Mr. Trump. I wanted to know more about how and why I was going to have to start liking one of his contributions to golf. 
 
Trump gave me 30 minutes on the phone. Portions of it were “off the record,” and most of it is a master publicist and politician giving his take and spin on a variety of topics, such as: his new course, his chase for an Open, why he’s good for the game, stubborn locals and a three-foot putt for his life. 
 
I’ve edited the audio, and I’ve clipped nine cuts. I’m also giving you the option of listening to the complete interview (without the "off the records") as a two-part podcast.
 
I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

Part 1 of the entire interview:


Part 2 of the entire interview:


 
Clip 1, an update on the course:


Clip 2, almost giving up:


Clip 3, his design input:


Clip 4, his financial contribution:


Clip 5, chasing an Open:


Clip 6, the power of his celebrity (and money):


Clip 7, a stubborn local:


Clip 8, his course in Los Angeles:


Clip 9, a three-foot putt for his life:




--Matty G.

(You can follow me on Twitter @Matt_Ginella.)