News & Opinion

Exclusive: Donald Trump’s son says family golf course business 'has never been better'

Donald Trump at the 2012 WGC Cadillac Championship at Doral's Blue Monster
Before he was elected as the nation's 45th president, Donald Trump presided over a golf empire that attracted some of golf’s premier events. His 16-course golf portfolio endures, but virtually all of the tournaments have gone elsewhere.

‘Our golf business has never been better,’ Eric Trump tells Morning Read in response to a recent report of a $315.6 million write-off regarding the Trump Organization’s golf courses. Yet, with so many of golf’s ruling organizations having shunned Trump golf properties, what is the future for Trump’s golf portfolio?

Despite intense public scrutiny of President Donald Trump lately because of politics and tax issues, the Trump portfolio of golf courses remains a presence in the game. Exactly how strong and by what metric remains a question, however.

Recent reporting by The New York Times based upon the newspaper’s acquisition of Trump’s tax records show a tax write-off of $315.6 million on his golf courses since 2000. In a phone interview with Morning Read, Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said the reported number concerns standard depreciation write-offs and is not to be confused with operating losses.

“Our golf business has never been better,” Trump said. “We’re having the best year in the history of Trump golf; a great monetary year, membership, play and weather.”

“The portfolio isn’t losing money,” said Trump, referring to the firm’s golf holdings. “You can make an operating profit, and that’s not the same as a tax loss based on depreciation, on legitimate write-offs on a schedule. That’s how real estate works.”

The Trump portfolio is composed of 16 facilities: 12 in the U.S., two in Scotland and one each in Ireland and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Three more are in various stages of development: one in Dubai, designed by Tiger Woods, and two in Indonesia, designed by Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson. Nine of the properties that are up and running function as member-only clubs – all of them in the U.S. Seven of the properties are public access, with only three of them in the U.S.: Los Angeles, New York and Miami, with green fees in the $154-$325 range. For the most part, they are owned and operated by the Trump Organization, with only Ferry Point in Bronx, N.Y., under a management contract and technically part of New York City’s municipal golf network.

If hosting prestigious golf championships is part of a marketing plan designed to enhance the name recognition of a golf property, then the extensive portfolio of Trump-branded golf courses certainly has been busy. Or, at least, had been.

While past behavior certainly has been prominent, the future looks much less busy. A search undertaken by Morning Read turns up 30 significant major golf championships held on Trump-owned, -operated and/or -managed properties, all of them in the period 2001 through 2017. That list includes a Women's British Open, a U.S. Women’s Open, two USGA junior events, an NCAA national championship, 10 LPGA events, 13 PGA Tour events, a Senior PGA Championship and a tournament held three times on the Latinoamérica Tour. However, there is only one more Latinoamérica Tour event slated, plus the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club’s Old Course in Bedminster, N.J.

Many of golf’s major associations started distancing themselves from Trump shortly after he announced his presidential candidacy on June 16, 2015. Two weeks later, the PGA of America, USGA, PGA Tour and LPGA Tour issued a joint statement that rebuked Trump for his anti-immigration views and for claiming that he had the support of the golf industry. "In response to Mr. Trump's comments about the golf industry 'knowing he is right' in regards to his recent statements about Mexican immigrants, we feel compelled to clarify that those remarks do not reflect the views of our organizations," the statement read. "While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA do not usually comment on presidential politics, Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”

In his comments to Morning Read, Eric Trump, the third child and second son of the president and his first wife, Ivana Trump, conceded that “politics complicates things” and that “politics had made the tournament side more difficult.”

In typically upbeat tones, Eric Trump said he anticipates getting back to holding major events beyond the 2022 PGA, though he did not assign a time frame to the goal.

“When he gets out of politics,” Trump said of his father, “we’ll do a million tournaments.”

Tournaments at Trump-owned, -branded or -managed courses

  • 2001-2008: LPGA ADT Championship, Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach, Fla.
  • 2006: LPGA Office Depot Championship, Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
  • 2008-2015: PGA Tour Puerto Rico Open, Trump International Golf Club, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
  • 2009 USGA Junior Amateur, Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (Old and New courses), Bedminster, N.J.
  • 2009 USGA Girls’ Junior Amateur, Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (Old and New courses), Bedminster, N.J.
  • 2012-2016 WGC-Cadillac Championship – Trump National Doral – Blue Monster, Miami
  • 2015 Women’s British Open, Trump Turnberry (Ailsa Course), Turnberry, Scotland
  • 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (Old Course), Bedminster, N.J.
  • 2017 U.S. Senior PGA Championship, Trump National Golf Club Washington (Championship Course), Potomac Falls, Va.
  • 2018-2021 Shell Latinoamérica Open, Trump National Doral (Golden Palm), Miami
  • 2022 PGA Championship, Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (Old Course), Bedminster, N.J.

Trump Golf portfolio
* indicates public access

  • Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point*, New York (management contract)
  • Trump International Golf Club*, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Fla.
  • Trump International Golf Links Ireland*, Doonbeg, Ireland
  • Trump International Golf Links Scotland*, Aberdeen, Scotland
  • Trump National Doral (Blue Monster, Golden Palm, Red Tiger and Silver Fox*)
  • Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (Old Course and New Course), Bedminster, N.J.
  • Trump National Golf Club Charlotte, Mooresville, N.C.
  • Trump National Golf Club Colts Neck, Colts Neck, N.J.
  • Trump National Golf Club Hudson Valley, Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
  • Trump National Golf Club Jupiter, Jupiter, Fla.
  • Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles*, Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
  • Trump National Golf Club Philadelphia, Pine Hill, N.J.
  • Trump National Golf Club Washington (Championship Course and Riverview Course), Potomac Falls, Va.
  • Trump National Golf Club Westchester, Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
  • Trump Turnberry (Ailsa Course and Kintyre Course)*, Turnberry, Scotland

In development

  • Trump International Hotel and Tower Bali, Indonesia
  • Trump International Hotel and Tower Lido, Indonesia
  • Trump World Golf Club Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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