PERHAPS he thought his invitation had been lost in the post. But no, Alex Salmond’s name has been removed from the glittering guest list for the lavish opening ceremony of Donald Trump’s new golf course next month.
The First Minister will be conspicuous by his absence as some of the biggest names in world golf including Scots professionals Colin Montgomerie and Paul Lawrie gather at the Trump International Golf Links on July 10.
The US tycoon was still declaring last June that he wanted the First Minister to open his new course on the Menie Estate, but since then the American billionaire and the SNP government have openly clashed over the offshore wind farm planned close to the new links.
Last year, the New York-based tycoon said he wanted Salmond to perform the opening ceremony in Aberdeenshire with movie star Sir Sean Connery.
At the time, Trump said: “I have great respect for Alex and I’m very glad he won the election,” he said. “The people of Scotland are well represented with him.”
When Scotland on Sunday asked Trump’s right-hand man George Sorial yesterday whether the First Minister was still invited, the reply was a terse: “Mr Salmond is not invited. Let’s just leave it at that.”
Sorial refused to elaborate on why the First Minister was no longer going to open the course. However, Trump himself has made no effort to hide his anger with Salmond.
Trump’s fury over the offshore wind farm planned for Aberdeen Bay has seen him attack Salmond’s support for wind energy projects. In a letter to the First Minister sent in February, the US businessman accused him of being “hell-bent on destroying Scotland’s coastline and therefore Scotland itself.”
Salmond, a keen golfer, will miss out on a ceremony that will see Montgomerie, Lawrie, Trump and his family enjoy a champagne reception before teeing off on the new links, which has already been rated by a golf magazine as one of the top ten courses in the British Isles.
Also missing will be Trump’s great friend Connery, who is not planning to make the journey from the Bahamas, though his invitation is still open.
Connery’s agent Nancy Seltzer said: “Sean is retired. He is not making any public appearances.”
Leading American professionals are expected to be at the event, which takes place shortly before the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, near Inverness, and the Open Championship at Lytham St Annes, Lancashire.
Among the 250 guests will be leading figures in the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews along with George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, and Sandy Jones, chief executive of the Professional Golfers’ Association.
The ceremony will signal the start of a week of celebrations, which includes a two-day tournament marking the centenary of Hawtree Ltd, the firm of golf course architects which has designed the Trump course.
A spokesman for the First Minister said: “Of course, the First Minister wishes the new course at Balmedie well, and by all accounts it is a very fine course. But he has not had an invitation and in any case will be on his way to Castle Stuart for the junior club golf event and the Scottish Open.
“Castle Stuart on the Moray Firth is another outstanding new links golf course in the north of Scotland.”