Donald Trump, the New York real estate billionaire, opened the initial stage of his 750 million-pound ($1.16 billion) Scottish golf resort today when he played the first round on the championship course he has spent two years building.
Trump was accompanied by Scottish professional golfers Colin Montgomerie, captain of the victorious European Ryder Cup team in 2010, and Martin Laird, who plays on the U.S. PGA Tour. Paul Lawrie, the winner of the 1999 British Open who comes from nearby Aberdeen and was due to fly in by helicopter, couldn’t attend because of bad weather.
The opening comes as “You’ve Been Trumped” begins playing in U.K. movie theaters. The film criticizes the way Trump, 66, bulldozed the wishes of neighboring landowners to build the course among sand dunes on the 1,400-acre (567 hectares) Menie Estate 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Aberdeen on Scotland’s northeast coast.
A public row with Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond over plans to build an offshore wind farm overlooking the course has led Trump to put on hold plans to build a second golf course, a 450-bed, five-star hotel, 500 homes and 950 short-term rental apartments. Salmond, whose constituency includes the course, has not been invited to the opening ceremony.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust yesterday urged Montgomerie and Laird to boycott the nine holes of the course that were built on a former site of special scientific interest.
Trump planted marram grass to stabilize a stretch of sand dunes that would otherwise have moved northwards at an average of a few yards a year. Government environmental advisers, prior to the development getting the go-ahead in 2008, had called for the dunes to be protected.
The real estate entrepreneur first identified the coastal site as a potential golf resort in 2005. The Scottish government intervened in 2007 after local councilors rejected the proposal. Following a public inquiry, the government approved it in principle in November 2008 after planning inspectors attached 40 conditions.
Trump, whose mother was born on the Scottish island of Lewis, has spent more than 100 million pounds building the course, restoring the estate and carrying out infrastructure works. He has built a 22-acre driving range, a 3,000 square-meter (32,000 sq ft) putting green and a 10,000 square-meter short-game practice area.
The public can play the 7,400-yard (6,770-meter), par 72 course from July 15 and it will remain open until Oct. 31. Weekend greens fees are 200 pounds for non-locals and 160 pounds for locals. During the week the cost is 120-150 pounds.
The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, a venture between Vattenfall AB, Technip SA and Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, applied in August to build 11 next-generation offshore wind turbines in Aberdeen Bay.
The turbines are 195 meters (640 feet) high to the tip of the blade, the equivalent of a 64-story building, and will be 1.5 miles out at sea, according to David Rodger, a spokesman for the venture.
The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre “is crucial to the future economy of the region” and “is of strategic importance to the development of the offshore wind sector for Scotland, the U.K. and, indeed, Europe,” Rodger said in a statement in January.
Since then, Trump has argued in letters to Salmond that wind farms will destroy Scottish tourism and that other countries are turning away from the technology. He has also given evidence to Scottish lawmakers about his opposition to wind farms in tourist areas.
Salmond’s policy is for Scotland to generate all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. He wants Scotland, the windiest country in Europe, to become a world leader in renewable technologies
Trump has built golf resorts in New York, New Jersey, California, Florida and the Grenadine islands in the Caribbean. In January he won a contract to run the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ferry Point municipal golf course in New York City that is due to open in the fall of next year.