Donald Trump Goes to Ireland

doonbeg-001

In 2006, I traveled to Ireland with three other Golf Digest editors, and among the courses we played was Doonbeg, about an hour and a half down the coast from Lahinch. (A useful rule of thumb, when estimating travel times on older Irish roads, is to think of the kilometers as miles, and multiply by two.) In the magazine I wrote that, after playing the course twice, I wanted to take back nearly every unkind thought I’d ever had about Greg Norman, who designed it. Several of the holes, I said, were permanently memorable, including the teensy but murderous fourteenth, a par 3, which has a green scarcely large enough to contain a foursome (shown above).

doonbeg lodge

The only part of Doonbeg I didn’t care for was the club itself, which, in contrast to the course, seemed distinctly overdetermined. Doonbeg was created, in 2002, by Kiawah Development Partners, of Kiawah Island, South Carolina, and there was a powerful American-style screw-you quality to many of the amenities, both inside the huge gray-stone clubhouse (where golf balls in 2006 were selling for a hundred dollars a dozen) and on the grounds beyond the course, where the walls bordering the endless private drive had been draped with sod that appeared to have been cut on Savile Row. Well, reality finally caught up with the owners, and the property went into receivership in January. Last month, the whole thing sold, for about twenty million dollars, to my close personal friend Donald Trump, who subsequently sent a letter to Doonbeg’s (mostly non-Irish) members and apartment owners. Here’s the first part of his letter:

Trump letter

A downside with Trump is that he names or renames everything after himself. But the rest of us can continue to call the course Doonbeg, and I think the members and the Irish and golfers in general ought to be pleased, because, as Trump demonstrated at Doral last week, when he buys a struggling golf property he doesn’t fool around. No matter what you think about him, he has been extremely successful—and shrewd!—at cleaning up golf messes made by other people. So good for him.

Some of the en-suite luxuries in my room at Mar-a-Lago, where I spent one night in 2012.

Some of the en-suite luxuries in my room at Mar-a-Lago, where I spent one night in 2012.

8 thoughts on “Donald Trump Goes to Ireland

    • It’s an ultra-classy bottled water, from Vermont (according to the label). I keep a 20-ounce bottle in my office, in case a thirsty supermodel drops by unexpectedly.

  1. I am dubious about all things Trump. After Aberdeen and the interesting take he had on ‘protecting the environment’ I see his comments and promises as pure showmanship and bravado. Clearly he makes a huge impact on the places he buys (I cannot say whether that is good or bad because I do not know, but the impact is there, for sure).

    Doonbeg is closer to home for me and I watched the environmental steps that were taken during the construction of the course. Hard battles were fought and lost/won with the snails and the dunes. EU Directives, Special Habitats and the like were hard won by environmental campaigners and I have no doubt that Trump will tramp all over them. He has said as much. “Best in the world,’ ‘reach its potential,’ ‘everyone will love me’ are things he says whether he’s buying a golf course or toilet porcelain. I’m tired of it and I sure as hell hope that he doesn’t just wipe out the snail population to make his mark. Saying that there are similar snail populations found elsewhere in the world and this makes it fine to wipe them out at Doonbeg is equivalent to saying that because there are people in America we can wipe out the people in Spain…

    OK, I exaggerate, but this idea that if something is small it is unimportant ignores the natural ecosystem/food chain. How do we decide which creature is too big to eliminate? How do we know which creature might be the most important key to one long chain that has us at the top?

    Pardon the rant. Clearly Trump has plans to eliminate anything that stands in his way. I just hope that someday one of those things jumps up to bite him in the ass. A Great White Shark would be appropriate.

  2. Very curious what, exactly, you mean by “a powerful American-style screw-you quality.” Where do you find this screw-you quality here in America, and what does it comprise?

    • Historically, golf in Ireland and the United Kingdom has been basically inclusive, and a good example of that, in the U.K., is the fact that you can go online right now and book a round on any course where the British Open has ever been played. That’s not the way golf developed in the United States. When American golfers travel abroad, we have an unattractive tendency to act like we own the place, especially when, as in the case of Doonbeg, we actually do–although I admit that the screw-youiest golf course in Ireland, Old Head Golf Links, was developed by Irishmen.

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