January 21, 2014

For Trump National Doral owner Donald Trump, golf is a lifelong passion — and then some

Billionaire Donald Trump considers golf a lifelong passion, and presently he is focusing on his revamped Blue Monster course at Doral, which will host the WGC-Cadillac Championship in March.

Donald Trump loves golf. It would even be fair to say he is obsessed by it.

When his life isn’t revolving around big business, politics and, of course, his TV show, Celebrity Apprentice, Trump can often be found enjoying a round or developing golf courses around the world.

Just how obsessed is he with golf?

You don’t tentatively plan your grave site to be on a golf course unless you want to be around the game for all your life — and then some.

“We will have to see,” Trump, 67, said of the possibility of being buried off the fifth hole of his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. “But we actually have a cemetery approved for our members.”

Now, that’s what you call a full-service golf course.

“Where can you have a nicer place to end up at than a golf course?” he said of his possible resting place. “But I don’t know for sure that will be the final place for me. But I’ll be someplace. Actually, right now I don’t give it that much thought.”

In the present, his thoughts are primarily on his latest project, Trump National Doral, which will play host to the WGC-Cadillac Championship from March 6-9. Trump purchased of the Doral Resort & Spa in 2012 and refurbished the facilities and the famed Blue Monster golf course in the past year. He owns 11 golf courses worldwide.

Over the years, he has played with virtually every top professional golfer, from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods. He has also walked the fairways with many famous actors, including Sean Connery.

Politically, he has teed off with Speaker of the House John Boehner a few times. Presumably, they had a few words about conservative values during the round, but the bottom line was the golf. “Boehner played very nicely … he’s a very nice golfer,” Trump said.

Trump was asked if he would play with President Barack Obama if asked. The answer might be surprising, especially because Trump has been a very vocal questioner of the president’s birthplace in addition to his political policies.

But apparently a good round of golf can take precedence. Like Trump, Obama is an avid golfer.

“Sure, I would play with him,” Trump said of Obama. “I would love to play with the president if he wanted to. I would have no problem with that whatsoever.”

One of Trump’s favorite pairings was when he played with Clint Eastwood in California. That round with Eastwood might also have provided one of golf’s all-time strangest pairings — Trump and Michael Jackson.

“Michael decided to join us,” Trump said. “He doesn’t play golf, but he walked the course with me and Eastwood. It was great.”

When Trump does play golf, which he has been doing regularly for half a century, he said a considerable amount of money could exchange hands.

Are there some $500,000 bets being made? No, business deals are being made.

“Yes, I’ve made lots of deals on golf courses,” Trump said. “Some very big deals. I would never have made those deals if I was just having lunch with the people. Actually, I’ve made deals with people I didn’t like, but then when we play golf you get to know them better and your opinion can change — and it has in some circumstances."

As for actual bets on the course, Trump said they are closer to $5 for each nine holes than $500,000.

Trump, who started playing golf at age 18 and has 18 club championships to his name, can shoot in the 70s, which means his skill level is excellent. His drives are “… accurate and modestly long.” His chip-and-run game, the “easy shots” as he describes them, is his weakness. Not showing any lack of modesty, which Trump is wont to do at times, he described his putting, flop shots and sand shots as “very, very good.”

No matter how he plays, he enjoys the sport, and he is like a child with a new toy with the purchase of recently named Trump National Doral. Of course the resort has his name in the title — virtually everything Trump owns does.

Of golf and its surroundings, he said, “I find the beauty of golf wonderful. Just walking down the middle of the fairways of Doral. Surrounded by water and beautiful weather and sunshine and gorgeous brand-new green grass. It’s just perfect.”

Then, he vowed, “We are turning Doral into the greatest golf resort in the world.”

Considering his love of the game, would Trump rather be a world-class professional golfer, or be the rich multibillionaire entrepreneur that he is?

“I’d rather be who I am,” he said without hesitation. “I wouldn’t like to need to sink three-footers for a living all my life. That’s not an easy living. Yes, I’m sure I would much rather be who I am.”

If anyone still doubts Trump’s love for golf has no bounds, consider:

When reinventing the Blue Monster championship course, he had a helipad put in off the ninth fairway.

“I can get to the course from my home in Palm Beach in nine minutes,” he said. “That’s nice. Really nice.”

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