ROYAL Portrush is already in the running to be added to the Open rota and so, too, could Donald Trump’s new course outside Aberdeen.
It opens in July and, though many people found it funny when the American announced he was building a course he hoped would stage the world’s oldest major one day, he might well have the last laugh.
Peter Dawson, the R&A chief executive, certainly didn’t shut the door onTrump when asked if he could envisage seeing the course at Menie Estate becoming a future Open venue. “The initial indications are that the golf course is very strong, but let’s see how it matures,” he said. “I won’t sit here pretending to be an expert on access and car parking and predicting how commercially successful it would be. But they have built a course that is pretty spectacular.”
It was Dawson, in fact, who led to Martin Hawtree getting the contract to design the course. “I recommended Martin to Donald Trump,” he added. “When he first came to my office, he had an American in mind and I said ‘how many links course has he done?’ and Trump said ‘What do you mean?’ So I gave him Martin’s name.”
Believed to have the 2022 Ryder Cup in his sights, Trump will be keen to stage a tournament as soon as he possibly can, with 2014 having already been mentioned for that to happen.
“He made approaches to us before he started building the course but there’s been nothing since. But good luck to them,” commented Dawson. “Ideally it would host a few big events but that’s not a necessary pre-requisite [for being considered as an Open venue].
“We are pretty open to other venues, especially in parts of the country where we don’t go. But clearly they would have to meet course requirements, infrastruture requirements and also commercial requirements. We’re clearly not going to go somewhere it is going to cost us a fortune and not get big crowds.”
Dawson has visited Royal Portrush himself to check it out. “It’s an interesting venue from all sorts of points of view but there are certain aspects of the golf course which would be very difficult for big crowds,” he reported of the 1951 venue. “We’re a long way from any announcement that the Open is going back to Portrush.”