The Trump Torch

Tod Leonard has fun with The Donald and the redesigned Ocean Trails opening this week...

When he purchased troubled Ocean Trails Golf Club – the infamous course with the 18th hole that had disastrously toppled onto the beach – out of bankruptcy for $27 million in 2002, The Donald had to give it the Trump Touch. So that means grandiose waterfalls and man-made lakes amid the coastal sagebrush and a new finishing hole that was rebuilt from the beach up.

Price tag: $61 million – for the 18th hole.

Total cost to basically redo a course that already was built: $264 million, making it the world's most expensive face-lift.

"When I took it over, I had to make a determination," Trump said last month in a conference call with reporters. "Did I want to just fix up what was there, or did we want to do something that was really special? We decided that the land was just too good to not to do anything but the best.

"We feel it's better than Pebble Beach. We have had some people out who are very familiar with Pebble Beach. Most people consider (Trump National) to be substantially superior."

Trump didn't drop any names, but those people he's talking about were probably kissing up for a spot on "The Apprentice."

In reality, Trump National doesn't come close to rivaling Pebble Beach in either its scenic grandeur or its quality of golf. Well-traveled Southern California golfers who picture a blend of Torrey Pines, Pelican Hill and Bajamar can get a fairly accurate mental image.