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Tuesday
Dec192017

Coul Links Co-Developer: "How I discovered Trump is fueling anti-US feeling"

Links House proprietor and Coul Links co-developer Todd Warnock has presented a very sensitive plan for land near Royal Dornoch. He's also done some incredible things for the Dornoch community, where he now lives.

Those accomplishments include the refurbishment of Links House into arguably golf's best hotel, fighting to prevent closure of the Highland Council service point, co-authoring a wonderful book of writings by Dornoch’s John Sutherland and most noticeable of all, turning the deteriorating Dornoch Courthouse into home of four successful businesses employing over 30 people.

But the project, to be designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and produced with developer Mike Keiser, continues to be met with strong resistance. Warnock, writing a guest piece for The Scotsman, makes the case that most Coul Links resistance is Donald Trump-related.

I should say that I have never worked with, supported or agreed with Trump. I could never give my backing to his policies or actions. Yet my partners and I find ourselves described as “peas in a pod” with Trump by a Scottish MSP, John Finnie. He has never met me, my partners or responded to my calls, yet he seems content to use Trump as a stick to tar me with, regardless of my actual beliefs.

I’ve also noticed this approach has been taken up at an organisational level. RSPB Scotland and SWT, for example, continue to focus on my nationality rather than the environmental facts of our strategy. They ignore the substantial environmentalist accomplishments of Mike Keiser and I while taking every opportunity to simply label us as “American millionaires”. In my view, they are endeavouring to whip up anti-American feeling – just go read some of the objections to our proposal on the Highland Council website. This is not unlike the way the Trump singles people out by their nationality or belittles their intentions. Similarly, the small group of locals self-named “Not Coul” try to paste the Trump scarlet letter upon us. A sensationalist video features Trump more than it does me or my partners.

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Reader Comments (20)

I've been to Dornoch. More than once. The serenity of the location is breathtaking. After reading the comment section in the Scotsman piece, the transplanted Warnock doesn't understand his Coul Links project is a business plan reach well beyond his community accomplishments? I can understand "peas in a pod" as an insult given his political views. But it shouldn't come as a surprise when Trump performed the same benefit overture before invading Balmedie. Politics are irrelevant; it's still an American driven project on foreign soil. Warnock is insulting the intelligence of Scots if he expects them to buy Keiser and Coore & Crenshaw are coming down from the cross with the express purpose of saving Dornoch from itself.
12.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Locals who can't see the benefit of this project are blind. They will cut off their nose to spite their face.This project will add nicely to the tourism draw of the area and if they kill the project they will regret it - it's as simple as that. They should welcome and celebrate that someone wants to invest in the area, whether it's American money or not.
12.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
I was in Dornoch in late August 2016 and after a round at RD, I went to the Dornoch Social Club where there was an open house where Mike Kiser, Todd Dornoch and Bill Coore were on hand to present their vision of Coul Links to the locals and answer any questions. I approach one of the blown-up displays depicting some aspect of the course and there's a little old lady looking at it. She turns to me and says, "Do you really need to build another golf course in Scotland? Can't this area just be left alone and not have our beach spoiled?" I guess by the fact I was wearing golf clothes and she didn't know me, she assumed (correctly) that I was American. It was all very much like the movie "Local Hero" and I actually do side with her. I'm always stirred by the vision of a desolate, wild, beach. Coul Links would surely would be an economic benefit to the community but maybe the locals like their serene, almost perfect Dornoch just the way it is.
12.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndy
"Do you really need to build another golf course in Scotland? Can't this area just be left alone and not have our beach spoiled?"

The answer is no - the problem is that we have rather poor designers who come here and telling us what good design is all about, when in fact if we look closely at what is being done its just another commercial course designed for Americans to come and play.

The real problem is that so many have not understood the game let alone golf course design and so produce courses that reflect more a Hilton room be in in American, Japan, Africa or Europe. We get the same old, same old and are expected to be overwhelmed with the design, and how it plays while the design has totally ignored the very fundamentals of Scottish Golf.

No, we don't need more courses, nor do we need super courses, for golfers here in Scotland play The Royal & Ancient Game of Golf. And not Cartball or riding golf using every possible aid to try and achieve a low score.
Scottish Golfers want to engage with the course, we want to test our skills (no matter the level).
We seek to understand more about the game and how it intertwines with Nature and the Natural.
We seek to pit ourselves against such odds as well as the cunning of the designer, for the further enrichment of our game and lives.
We don't seek or look for the easy, it would be totally pointless to do so, as that does not in any way or shape conform to the requirements of the game which is all about the challenge.

No, we do not need any new super smooth courses that disrespects our traditional game of golf.
Our Governing Bodies are doing that so well in their own right, then what drives the R&A these days, it’s certainly not Golf, perhaps the money they make from The Open, which by rights has very little to do with the R&A and all to do with Prestwick.

As it’s the time of love and hope, we should not mention the R&A , so I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
12.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom Morris
Sorry about the slip and making Warnock into Dornoch in my previous comment.
12.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndy
" and if they kill the project they will regret it - it's as simple as that. "

Why will they regret it? They seem to be quite content without the project going forward. Does every piece of beautiful land have to be developed into a golf course?
12.20.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
No, not every piece of land needs to be developed into a golf course. However not every single person in Scotland can work for Scottish Natural Heritage, or another arm of the government, with a salary for life and all the benefits. Some people actually need honest real jobs in the private sector and golf and golf tourism are a couple of the industries that provide some of those jobs. Maybe one day there will be a minimum livable wage provided to everyone and people won't need jobs, and we can designate the whole world a park for us to enjoy.
12.20.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
Yeah, that's exactly what I was saying PA. Lucky for the poor people of Scotland you're looking out for their welfare.
12.20.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Remember

"Golf is a reward"

Not exactly Scottish sentiment
12.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterBillV
This is a project in Embo, first and foremost - then Sutherland and then Dornoch.
If the LOCALS truly objected to Coul Links, then that would have been painfully obvious at all of the town meetings.

If there was LOCAL resistance, then the developers would have ceased their efforts months ago.
Coul Links is private property owned by a family who has overseen it for centuries. There is not local resistance to the project. Instead, there is 90%+ support including a monetary investment by the town of Embo's trust.

To the detractors and absentee obstructionists: Who might YOU be to tell a town of 300 what they can or cannot do with the private property of one of THEIR residents to create jobs and economic impact in THEIR community? Their town has changed in the past 100 years and now they endeavor to adapt to their new reality.

Outside opinion undercuts and undermines the will of the locals.

Funny how the supposed "environmentalists" so strenuously object to the golf course citing negative effects on local bird species yet these same "concerned citizens" are head down ignoring the fact that hunters descend on the property and shoot these same birds for WHAT...SPORT!!!

This is the height of "cut and paste" selective and hypocritical activism. But, in this case, it endeavors to rob a town of an opportunity to adapt to the new economic climate of the 21st century. For same...for shame....
12.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterI-Mac
Well said I-Mac, and thank you for your clarifications.
12.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPress Agent
"There is not local resistance to the project. Instead, there is 90%+ support including a monetary investment by the town of Embo's trust."

IMac, Is the 90%+ figure you're using personal opinion or has a poll been taken so we can verify the OVER EXAGGERATION crowd that likes to throw numbers around so loosely? That crowd is related to the C and P activists.
12.21.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
Speaking if which...Up here in Canada, I get a little angry now when I see Pennsylvania and Michigan plates on our highways. Wisconsin is really rare, but they'd have the same effect on me. Hate to paint people with the same brush, but those are Trump states now and forever. MAGA Chuds.
12.21.2017 | Unregistered Commenterdsl
@dsl, let's not give up on the Pennsylvanians just yet...

http://bit.ly/2p7I8ch
12.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Peterson
@dsl - So in Michigan of the 4,547,998 that went to Trump and Hillary there were 11,612 more people that voted for Trump or 0.25% you have become angry at the entire state of almost 10 million residents now and forever.

I feel a little sad for you.
12.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatts
I must have missed the memo I-Mac but are we now supposed to use all CAPS when we are really stressing certain words?
12.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKPK
Outsiders are not allowed to ask questions, ol Harv. Never mind deserve answers.

I'd like to know why "some local people felt unable to speak out against the proposal."

Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie welcomed the opposition from the conservation groups. He said: “Loch Fleet and Coul Links are hugely important areas for wildlife and this is reflected by the national and international designations that it holds. It is a Site of Special Scientific interest, a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar site. “These designations are not handed out willy nilly and Highland Council and the Scottish Government must ensure that they are fully protected. “It will be interesting to see any official analysis of the impact this destructive proposal would have for Scotland’s near £300 million wildlife tourism industry. “It’s disappointing that some local people felt unable to speak out against this proposal. Frankly, Highlanders have heard false assurances of great job proposals from millionaires many times in the past.”

Read more at: https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/conservationists-object-to-luxury-highland-golf-course-1-4606867
12.21.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
An article from 12-22-17 in the LA Times that is a bit tangential to Coul Links but something to ruminate over.

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-conservancy-purchase-20171221-story.html
12.22.2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndy
"We’re willing to expose ourselves to some level of notoriety with the hope that it will inspire others to do what we did,” Jack Dangermond said. “These places are disappearing fast.”

Exactly. Thanks for the article Andy.
12.22.2017 | Unregistered Commenterol Harv
There is no doubt that the broken promises, bully boy tactics and relative lack of success at Trump Aberdeen has clouded opinion of new American developments over here. But thats a shame-Turnberry, Castle Stuart and Kingsbarns have been good developments. Having said that Dornoch can well stand on its own two feet and is very successful just the way it is.-and there are loads of other wonderful courses within an hours drive that many will not have heard of.
12.24.2017 | Unregistered Commenterchico

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