Why we need more Donald Trumps in golf.

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We got a lot of comments on the Winter issue that features a profile of Donald Trump. And while many think he is bad for the game — including one of our own editors — the celebrity golf course owner makes a convincing pitch that he is the best success story in the game at this time.

Trump has made a business out of buying up good courses in great locations and then making them “phenomenal,” to use one of his favorite terms. Of course, to make such a strategy work, you need cash — which Trump is flush with thanks to his television show and other real estate holdings.

And that’s what golf needs more of — owners who have cash and love the game of golf. I know that some feel his persona and approach to development, especially in Scotland, are detriments to the game. But it takes all kinds of golf courses, styles and approaches to make an industry robust. Diversity is good for creativity. Creativity is good for growth.

And the more money that is invested into the industry, the quicker things will improve. The industry was better off when Trump took over what is now called Trump National in Los Angeles. The prior owners had spent millions on the course, thanks to the 18th hole falling into the ocean. Trump bought it cheap and is logging 44,000 rounds a year at $250 to $350 a round. He has done similar turnarounds with other underperforming courses. Each turnaround is a step forward for the golf industry.

Now we just need more Donald Trumps. The problem is that there just aren’t that many billionaires running around who want to invest in the golf industry. But even if they come with bravado or non-traditional ideas, we should welcome them with open arms.

Comments

Yes and no. While the investment and the publicity is good for golf, one of the things that hurt the game is the cost. While there are enough people to support some of the $350 courses, we built too many courses in general and too many difficult, expensive courses in particular. As a result, a lot of people gave up the game because of the cost, time to play, and other reasons. Hopefully, as courses close, and others are bought at low prices, we can make the game both affordable for golfers and profitable for owners. Only then will the industry really start to recover.

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