Fifteenth century Scots began whacking a ball across fields in an effort to deposit it into a hole in the ground and thus golf was created. The game has evolved over time with equipment upgrades and design strategy to challenge modern day players. Its traditions are timeless. Those who have contributed to the game are remembered. Their names and accomplishments are often referenced in conversations among players.
Currently Donald Trump is attempting to take a seat next to golf’s greatest benefactors. Everyone knows “The Donald”. He’s about a subtle as an F-5 tornado. Loud, wealthy and known for bad hair, Trump is hell bent on making his mark in the game. Only time will tell if he qualifies to share a spot with Joe Jemsek, Larry Packard, or other developers who have brought golf to the masses rather than only the privileged few. It’s tough to predict if Trump’s collection of ulra-courses will rival the appeal of a Cog Hill or one of the 250 layouts Packard designed. Fortunately one thing is certain – he won’t be making this decision; golfers present and future will.
I’ve never met Mr. Trump. Our paths in life run parallel. It is doubtful they’ll intersect. Yet I’ve been around the game for fifty-plus years. I enjoy studying its history and respect its traditions. I’ve met and worked with influential people who have quietly made their mark in golf. These individuals understand they are not bigger than the game regardless of how many properties they’ve developed, how many jets they own or how much hair they have on their head. Golf is the main act. It always will be. They are the quiet contributors that let their works speak for themselves.
Next week the PGA Tour will engage in its second World Golf Championship in three weeks. It is being played at Doral, a fixture on the PGA schedule. However this time it will be different. Doral is now “Trump National Doral” after “The Donald” bought the property, upgrading the lodging facilities and golf courses. You can bet you’ll see plenty of the owner on television during the week pumping up a worn out resort he reclaimed as well as his other golf properties in the Trump portfolio.
If you like extravagance, waterfalls, gold-plated faucets in golf course restrooms, inflated greens fees and other amenities suited for golf royalty, Trump golf properties might be your cup of tea. But if you’re one who enjoys golf on it’s own regardless if you’re being served a cold beer in a paper cup or a silver-handled stein, maybe The Donald’s favorite venues won’t garner that much interest among golf’s masses.
Nonetheless, it is golf and after a significant lag in facility development in the US, perhaps Trump’s efforts are noteworthy. However the need to continue promoting the game should be focused on creating opportunities for the masses. Either way we’ll hear plenty about the glory of Trump’s golf empire next week. My only hope is Mr. Trump’s irrational exuberance doesn’t detract from the time honored traditions of the game that has been around longer than he has.