The American President polarises opinion on just about everything and golf is no different. But has his involvement been good or bad for the game?
Is Donald Trump Good For Golf?
Like it or not, Donald Trump might just be the most famous golfer on the planet.
Forget about the on-course antics of Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, for many people when they think about golf, the American President springs to mind.
The company has a regular Tour venue in Trump Doral and at Bedminster in New Jersey they have hosted the 2017 US Women’s Open.
He may have handed the reigns over to his sons but given this level of involvement in the sport and the controversies that surround him, it seems fair to ask whether Trump is helping or hindering the game we love.
On the outskirts of Aberdeen, weaving its way through one of Britain’s most dramatic dunescapes is Trump International Golf Links.
Trump International Golf Links Scotland Tour:
When Trump received pictures of the dunes from a photographer he saw the potential for a spectacular layout and so bought the land.
Controversy followed as he clashed with landowners and the Scottish government but fast-forward to 2018 and that stretch of dunes is celebrating its sixth year as a golf course.
By employing course architect Martin Hawtree, Trump turned a patch of land used by a relatively small group of dog walkers and beach-goers into a must-see sporting destination.
And then of course, there is Turnberry.
The idea of Trump buying and then revamping one of Britain’s most treasured layouts filled many with dread.
They needn’t have worried.
Again his prowess can be seen in his hiring of Martin Ebert.
By allowing this dramatic coastline to further influence both the aesthetic and the test of the course, it is a commonly held belief that Turnberry has been elevated into something truly awe-inspiring.
Throw in the investment made at Doonbeg in Ireland and it is clear there is a lot for golf fans on this side of the Atlantic to be excited about.
Trump might just have been the only person on the planet with the vision and resources to take on these projects. The golfers who have played them cannot fail to be impressed.
￼Historically, golf has found it hard to shrug off the image of a haven for middle-aged misogynistic white men in bad trousers who revel in the status of being members of private clubs.
Golf was, and possibly still is, a marker of your social status.
For a while it looked as if Tiger Woods would open up the sport to the masses – then he drove into a fire hydrant one fateful November night and things changed.
Nowadays we have a crop of young, athletic superstars all capable of show-stopping sporting achievements.
Under their stewardship the modern game seems in good shape.
Related: Golf Monthly UK&I Top 100 Courses
On the other hand you have the President of the United States.
A man whose comments about women, the disabled and different cultures have shocked and disgusted in equal measure.
To many, this sort of off-the-cuff, ill-informed rhetoric seems to have come straight out of the clubhouse bar.
What’s more, in 2015 Trump told Fortune magazine, “Let golf be elitist. When I say ‘aspire’, that’s a positive word. Let people work hard and aspire to some day be able to play golf. To afford to play it.”
While we all enjoy playing on empty courses at beautifully manicured venues, it is clear this attitude is not in the best interests of the game.
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Golf is a sport in transition.
It is competing with other sports and hobbies when spare time is in short supply.
If the game is going to flourish, it needs to look forward towards a modern version of itself and not back towards its elitist past.
However, the truth is that Trump’s influence over the perception of our sport is intangible.
His politics and his rhetoric are divisive but are they stopping people from engaging with golf?
Maybe, maybe not.
What is for sure is that the Trump Organization owns, invests in and consistently improves an expanding group of venues.
His vision for golf courses and ability to realise his lofty ambitions are enriching the game we love.
On balance, I can’t help but feel golf’s landscape would be poorer without him.
As always, let us know your thoughts on the Golf Monthly social channels