On the eve of Donald Trump's arrival at Turnberry to re-open the famed course in the middle of the campaign, both Reuters and the Washington Post look at the finances of each course's purchase and development. Both stories conclude that Trump's efforts in Scotland have not been great successes as businesses but the stories seem a little light on long term vision for how a golf course purchase and re-investment potentially could pay off.
Given the lack of promised development at Aberdeen, the conclusion by the Washington Post's Jenna Johnson seems reasonable, but the Reuters piece by Tom Bergin case leans hard on Turnberry and Doonbeg, which seems wildly premature given that the courses haven't been re-opened to golfers with the new, uh, vision. (I'm hoping to report from Turnberry in a few weeks, but everything I've seen and heard looks like spectacular work by Mackenzie and Ebert.)
Jenna Johnson's story from the Washington Post included this:
According to reports filed with the British government, Trump said the Aberdeen course has lost more than 4.71 million pounds since 2012 — the equivalent of $6.9 million at current exchange rates. British authorities were told that the course lost 1.14 million pounds, or about $1.67 million, in 2014 alone.
Yet in a July 2015 disclosure filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, Trump valued Aberdeen at “over $50 million” and put his income from the course at $4.2 million between mid-2014 and the end of 2015.
A similar pattern holds for records filed for his Turnberry golf resort on Scotland’s west coast, which he will also visit this week, and at a third Trump course in Ireland’s County Clare — millions in losses reported in overseas records, millions in profits reported on U.S. forms.
Trump told Bloomberg News, which first reported on the gap between the reports, that the amounts he listed on his U.S. filings were “projected future income.”
Trump’s son Eric, who takes the lead in golf course developments, said in an interview that the U.S. disclosure forms report gross revenue, not net income. He also said the British and Irish courses are losing money only because the Trump Organization is spending aggressively to turn them into leading international resorts.
“We are incredibly pleased with Aberdeen,” Eric Trump said. “. . . It is the most beautiful course I have ever seen. It is a spectacular project that will continue to be the gem of Trump Golf for years to come.”
From Bergin's story:
How great his golf course investments have been is debatable. A Reuters examination of them shows that Trump has likely lost millions of dollars on his golf projects. The analysis shows high costs and modest current valuations. Using conservative estimates of the amount Trump has spent, he may be breaking even or making modest gains; on higher estimates – based on whatTrump has said he is spending – he’s losing money.
Trump disputes the analysis. He said Reuters’ calculations overestimated what he had spent and underestimated the value of his investments. He declined to provide figures for his expenditure on courses or their current or future market values.
“The golf courses are doing very well. Every one of them makes a lot of money,” said the author of the “Art of the Deal.” “They are not really golf investments, they’re development deals.”