Tournaments will come to Trump’s Menie dream links
Now it has been built, the tournaments will definitely come to this “Field of Dreams”.
That was the clear message delivered by George O’Grady, the European Tour’s chief executive, at yesterday’s opening of the £100 million Trump International Golf Links at Menie outside Aberdeen.
It remains to be seen if Trump’s personal dream of hosting an Open Championship will come true, especially with Royal Portrush having boosted its credentials to be restored to the rota for the first time since 1951 on the back of a successful Irish Open a fortnight ago.
But it seems a certainty that a European Tour event will be staged there in the not too distant future, with the Scottish Open a strong contender once its stay at Castle Stuart near Inverness comes to an end.
“It’s a man’s golf course – it’s meant for the highest level of play,” acknowledged O’Grady as he gazed down the first fairway of the Martin Hawtree-designed layout.
“What he [Trump] and I have agreed is that, when we are both ready, we would try and persuade someone to come here – and I don’t think it will be too difficult a task. There’s the Scottish Open to think about and I’m sure that’s in the mind of our sponsors, but there are other events as well. It’s certainly capable of taking the biggest and best, I would say.
“It is a unique golf course and, once the photographs of it are seen, many people will want to come here.”
O’Grady, who first visited the spectacular course at Menie Estate during last year’s Walker Cup at nearby Royal Aberdeen, added: “It’ll take time until it’s all finished, but the basic raw material is here.
“There is plenty of room and I’m sure you can get thousands or hundreds of thousands of people around with a little bit of planning.
“It’s close to an international airport, there’s going to be a hotel built one day and there are quite a few hotels already in Aberdeen.
“It has to bed in and, although I have read bits about the environment, to my eyes this appears to be protecting the environment.
“We know that all the rubbish and cars and stuff that were dumped on this land have been cleaned up and what I’ve seen is impressive.
“I respect Martin Hawtree tremendously and have been impressed with the work that has been done to preserve wildlife and to look after the environment.”
With the Ryder Cup heading for Gleneagles in 2014, it seems unlikely that the Trump course will be considered as a venue for 2022 – the next slot up for grabs on this side of the Atlantic with Le Golf National in Paris having been awarded the 2018 contest.
“As it is coming here in two years’ time, I can’t see it being staged in Scotland again until I’m under the soil but it will come back to Scotland at some point,” said O’Grady.
“And, having walked 16 holes here, the quality of the golf course is good enough for any tournament. This land was made for a golf course and Martin Hawtree has done a terrific job with the complete backing of Donald Trump.”
O’Grady also said it would be up to the R&A, the event’s organisers, to decide whether or not the course could be considered as a future Open venue.
“I’m not going to be drawn on the Open because the R&A know what they’re doing and it’s a bit early to be thinking of Open Championships, I would have thought,” he commented.
Reflecting on the success of Portrush for that Irish Open, he added: “We were delighted with the test there. It was the first all-ticket gate we had on the European Tour and that was really us wanting to know what we could handle. We only had six months to plan it, after all.
“In the end, we reckon we could have put the gate higher. The car parks held, we didn’t have problems with people getting in and out of Portrush. The buses and traffic plan was excellent as well.
“Now, the room you need around the clubhouse for an Open Championship, is there enough there? Other people will look at that, but we didn’t use the second golf course. Portrush would have a claim, but the R&A know their job.”
While sitting down with Trump to discuss specific tournament details may be a year or two down the line, O’Grady is confident Castle Stuart will prove a successful venue for this week’s Scottish Open.
Last year’s inaugural staging at the Inverness course was hit by bad weather, forcing the event to be cut to 54 holes as world No 1 Luke Donald emerged as the winner.
“I hope they get a break with the weather,” said O’Grady in looking ahead to the latest staging, this time with Aberdeen Asset Management as the title sponsor after Barclays ended its lengthy backing last year.
“It’s ideal preparation for an Open Championship. It’s an excellent golf course and reasonably generous off the tee. Those fiddly links shots you’ve then got into the greens is nullified if it’s too soft, but we have no choice in that.
“I’m delighted that Phil Mickelson is back. He’s been a great proponent of speaking for Castle Stuart, telling all the Americans at the Presidents Cup.
“I think he was due in Venice on holiday but obviously decided after missing the cut last week [in the Greenbrier Classic] to come in. However, I just think it was because Phil really liked the golf course.
“I won’t make any comment on Barclays and Bob Diamond other than he loved Castle Stuart and was a great disciple of the golf course, he played on the Sunday night after the tournament [last year] and loved it.
“It’s a unique place that did not get a fair crack of the whip last year so I’m hoping that we’ll get a good run this year.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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