As you would expect, President Trump freely and frankly offers his views on why golf is great….and how it can be even better.
The exclusive interview took place in the summer of 2015 at The Donald's beloved Trump International Golf Links just outside Aberdeen.
TRUMP’S OPENING DRIVE…GENERALLY-SPEAKING
Firstly, let me say I think I like everything about the game of golf and overall I think golf is doing well. I’ve got 14 courses, not including Doral with its five courses set within 800 acres in the middle of Miami – a spectacular property – and they’re all doing very well.
What has happened in golf is very interesting. There was the Tiger (Woods) surge which was massive 15 years ago. It was a good thing though it also hurt golf in the sense that so many people built courses and went into the business when they patently shouldn’t have done.
LET’S UNEARTH MORE STARS OF THE FUTURE…
Golf is very star dependant and the young stars in particular are very important. Golf needs young Tigers. We had record TV ratings for the Doral tournament and it seems every time Tiger is in the hunt we get record ratings. But Tiger is getting older and the new emerging stars are going to be very important for the game.
I know Rory is a very talented guy. He’s very charismatic and could well be around for many years.
Every time Tiger is on TV the viewing numbers are tremendous and that situation has to be replicated going forward – we can’t rely on Tiger all the time, somebody else has to make their mark. Whatever that quality is, golf has to find it. Without that the game does fine, with that the game soars to another level.
I guess it’s a case of getting the kids into the game early, and you see more and more of that. I know the USGA and PGA of America are doing more inner city courses, while I’m currently building a course right now just two minutes out of Manhattan (Ferry Point, New York).
I think you’ve got a better chance of being a great player if you start early though there are exceptions like the great Julius Boros – he won the US Amateur a year after taking up the game and then went on to win US Open. I think it’s called talent, and I believe in talent. Actually, it’s a combination of talent and practice.
Trump’s son Don chips in: “My son, who first picked up clubs when he was two-years-old, said to me on the course the other day ‘Dad, can we go and play 100 holes!’ I think there is a certain age where they can get into it and they are ultimately the future of the game – it’s a hard game to pick up when you’ve got other hobbies and, say, getting married. “
MORE CHARACTERS REQUIRED…
The game needs characters, players and great entertainers like Lee Trevino. There’s nothing wrong with characters and the game needs personality. Yes, it’s got quite a few characters, such as Bubba Watson and Ian Poulter, but you can’t have too many of them. In a golden era of golf, Trevino was a great, great character as well as a solid person and stood out. Tiger, in his own way, is a great character in a positive sense.
GET THE BASICS RIGHT…
When starting out, you’ve got to be taught right in the first place. To become a good, solid player you have to have the right basics and fundamentals. I see a lot of guys with terrible grips and I just say to them you’re kidding yourself because if you don’t have a good basic grip you’re never going to be a good player no matter how hard or often you practice. You have to get the fundamentals right and then go from there.
PUT YOUR TRUST IN NEW EQUIPMENT…
Equipment is very important for obvious reasons. But I have friends who are using 15-years-old clubs and they complain they can’t play without their own clubs and they’re so wrong. New equipment is so much more forgiving and better and every time I see somebody with old equipment I insist they get some new stuff… and then they all call me up and thank me!
Is the modern equipment making the game too easy? No way. Believe me, it’s never too easy. The hardest part about golf is that the game is very hard and the biggest problem with golf is the game is very hard. It’s a very hard game: I’ve played with some of the greatest athletes in the world, world champion pitchers & football players and baseball stars… and they can’t play golf! Frankly, the equipment should be as good as you can make it and the courses should be great too. I hope they leave the ball the way it is too – I don’t think they should roll it back. People want to see the pros hit it 340 yards, they don’t want to be saying ‘I can hit it as far as those guys.’
SLOW PLAY GRINDS GAME TO A HALT…
Slow play is a very big problem, and sometimes you have to get nasty with people. I’ve actually thrown people out of my clubs because of slow play. They’re good people but they just don’t know what you’re talking about when slow play is brought to their attention, so I had to tell them they could no longer play.
The thing is though, that person can destroy an entire day of golf day for 144 people because if you have one slow group it doesn’t affect just the people behind them, it affects every group. Slow play is a disaster.
I always say four hours for a round of golf is sufficient though I’ve played in 2.5hrs with nobody in front of me. Mind you, playing with good golfers generally helps a lot. Don’t forget, if golfers shoot a 70 against a 100 that’s a 30 shots difference and that’s a lot of time. Playing the match play format would help but then again a lot of people want to know what they shoot at the end of the round.
I’ll tell you what I’ve done at some of my courses - and it’s cost money to do it - but I’ve increased the gaps between tee-times from nine to 11mins and, believe it or not, that two minutes gap has made a huge difference in waiting around and generally speeding up play.
But there are people who are slow no matter what you do and you’re only as good as the weakest link in golf. It’s very important you don’t have a slow group because one slow group makes it slow going for the rest. Furthermore, when a golf course gets rated as a ‘slow course’ it destroys the course – I know courses which have gone out of business because they have a reputation as being a slow course.
It’s the worst-case scenario and if a guy hits a bad opening shot on the 1st hole I always tell him to re-load. I just like to tell the guy to hit a ‘mulligan’ (free shot without penalty) as it doesn’t take much time, but helps to relax the situation.
SHORT IS NOT NECESSARILY SWEET…
I am aware of the shortened versions of the game and I understand them. I know Jack Nicklaus is promoting the US PGA Tour’s Tee it Forward Golf which makes the game a lot easier as well as speeding it up. But, to be honest, I’m a traditionalist and personally would rather play strokeplay. I love playing great courses and I love practice.
HIS FAVOURITE GOLF SUBJECT: GOLF COURSES…
Tough and challenging courses are great for the game and it would be great to see similar spectacular Championship courses to the Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen being built. TIGL is big and incredible but great for golf because people want to see and experience it.
My Ferry Point course (Jack Nicklaus design) is going to be great, the difference there being that it’s in the middle of New York! That may be a US Open course at some point.
Will there be a British Open at Aberdeen? Whatever happens, happens. Realistically, probably not in my lifetime but may be in his (son Don’s). I know a lot about golf and construction – you can’t build those dunes out there. I knew I had the perfect piece of land from day one.