Love him or hate him, there’s no doubt that Donald Trump is a golf fan. He plays regular, owns a number of courses and is a real advocate for the sport. Of course, for people who don’t like him, that association could be a negative one. So let’s assess if he really is good for golf.
The case in favour
For starters, there’s no doubt that Mr Trump has invested in gold. He bought his first course in West Palm Beach in 1999 and currently own 17 venues around the world – among them is Turnberry, the highest ranked course in the UK and Ireland. His company offer regular tours and they hosted the 2017 US Women’s Open at the Bedminster course in New Jersey.
In the UK and Ireland
Trump also creates new courses, with the example being a section of land just outside Aberdeen that he decided would be spectacular for a golf course. There was controversy, arguments with landowners and the Scottish government but there is now a 6-year-old gold course there – Trump International Golf Links. It has transformed a little-used area of land into a great course as well as a source of employment and tourism.
It was also recently announced that the Trump Organisation plans to invest another £750 million to continue to develop the Aberdeen site. There are plans to also build 500 homes, 50 hotel cottages and a sports centre with retail, equestrian and even commercial spaces being added to the resort with the golf course at its heart.
Golf purists were terrified at the idea of Trump buying Turnberry, but their worries proved unfounded. He brought in Martin Ebert and the work done to the course was positive – influenced by the dramatic coastline, the new course is very impressive. He also owns the International Golf Links in Doonbeg where he brought in Greg Norman to design the course.
The case against
Golf has long been associated with middle-aged white men who dress terribly and are members of private clubs with other middle-aged white men. Golf became something of a social status game, played by the elite and this made it more difficult for others to feel part of the game. Donald Trump is a classic example of this type of golfer.
His comments in 2015 before becoming involved with politics reflected an old-fashioned view that golf has battled against when he said that should be ‘elitist’ and that people should ‘aspire’ to work hard, and someday be able to afford to play it.
While the idea of aspiring to work hard for something is a good one, the idea that only the rich can play golf is something that many within the sport have turned against. Of course, you can buy high-quality golf clothes from golf clothing specialists. Including shoes that help grip the ground, water & windproof clothes to protect against the weather and gloves to better hold your club. But you can also play golf in a smart polo shirt and trousers – you don’t have to have high priced clothes and equipment to enjoy the game.
Playing the game
Perhaps the biggest problem with Donald Trump and golf is the repeated allegations that he cheats. At the core of golf is a standard of honesty – there are no referees on the course most of the time and players rely on each other, to be honest, and upfront. But there is a raft of allegations that the current US president is less than honest in his game.
People including Oscar de la Hoya, Samuel L Jackson, Alice Cooper and others from the sports journalism world in the US have all been quoted either directly saying he cheats or coming pretty close to it. This is very much against the ethic within golf and doesn’t help promote the image of the sport that it is trying so hard to create.
There’s no clear-cut answer to the question of whether Donald Trump is good for golf or not. There’s a clear case that he loves golf and a genuine fan is always welcome. He has also invested an impressive amount of money in courses around the world that have improved them and therefore made them better for other people. His Trump Organisation invests in venues, tours and other golf-related matters to the improvement of the sport.
On the turn side, he very much represents the side of golf that the sport is trying to move away from – the idea that it was an exclusive sport for rich white men. With the crop of brilliant young golfers coming through from all areas of the world, golf can show it has already made sweeping steps away from this old-fashioned idea. But there is still work to be done.