Donald Trump was completely in his element Monday.
He was standing on the first tee of a golf course, and being on a golf course is something Trump always enjoys. And making it even more enjoyable for Trump is that he owns the course.
Trump was unveiling the Red Tiger course at Trump National Doral as though he was opening a belated Christmas present.
Hitting the first “official” tee shot, he stepped up and launched a drive 285 yards right down the middle. Never one to be bashful or humble, Trump later said, “How did you like that drive? Did you see it? That drive had a really nice ball flight to it.”
Of course, making the occasion a little more special were the spectators standing behind Trump and watching. Among Trump’s many enterprises is running and owning the Miss Universe pageant, so watching him hit that tee shot were all the contestants for this year’s event, in addition to reigning Miss Universe Gabriela Isler of Venezuela.
After the ceremony on the Red Tiger tee concluded, Trump, 68, took time to give his opinions on golf and the rebuilding of the Doral courses and the resort.
▪ Can he see himself quickly selling Doral and the golf courses, flipping it if you will?
“We’re not looking to do any sales like that,” he said. “This fixing up of the golf courses and the resort was a labor of love.
“This place will be in the family for a very long time. We’ve put a lot into it. This building we’re sitting in right now was down to bare steel a while back.”
▪ How much did Trump spend on renovating the resort? “It breaks down to about $50 million on the golf courses and $200 million on the buildings,” he said. All four courses — the iconic Blue Monster, the Red Tiger, the Golden Palm and the Silver Fox — will be open for play after this weekend.
“I’ve played all four,” said Trump, who has a prime parking space at the resort. Of course, it’s not for his car. It’s a landing pad for his helicopter, just off the ninth tee of the Blue Monster. Other than the Blue Monster, which is home to the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship to be played March 5-8 this year, Trump said the other three courses, which have all undergone makeovers of varying degrees, are “more people courses.”
“They can’t all be the Monster,” he said. “The Monster can be brutal.”
▪ Did the renovation of the Blue Monster make the course too tough? Many of the pros in the WGC-Cadillac Championship complained vehemently after the Friday round last year.
“It was something like 50 mile-per-hour winds on that day,” Trump explained. “I was surprised they allowed them to play.
“Half the pros shot in the 80s, many in the mid-80s to high-80s, and these are the best players in the world. It was just a brutal day. But the wind is always a big factor out here. Overall, the pros loved it here.”
▪ Can the sport of golf, which some say has been struggling in recent years, be a successful business? “Absolutely,” Trump said. “Golf can be a good business if you know what you’re doing and you have good places. If you don’t have good places and courses, it’s not a good business. Golf in the right location can do very well.
“It’s a great sport, and I love it.”