Trump Properties, E-Verify And The Golf Industry

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After reading Joshua PartlowNick Miroff and David A. Fahrenthold  Washington Post story on the pipeline of illegal Costa Ricans working at various Trump Organization properties for years, it’s easy to see how this will put pressure on the golf industry to either suggest this is a one-off situation, or adopt E-Verify.

Many of the immigrants interviewed worked on the construction of Trump Bedminster, home of the 2022 PGA Championship.

“Many of us helped him get what he has today,” Angulo said. “This golf course was built by illegals.”

The Washington Post spoke with 16 men and women from Costa Rica and other Latin American countries, including six in Santa Teresa de Cajon, who said they were employed at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster. All of them said they worked for Trump without legal status — and that their managers knew.

While Mr. Trump now villifies such illegals, the company has adopted the E-Verify system at select properties.

Of 12 Trump golf courses in the United States, three of them — in North Carolina, Southern California, and Doral, Fla. — are enrolled in the E-Verify system, according to a federal database. Eric Trump said that “a few” other clubs, including a Trump course in the Bronx, use a private vendor to screen new applicants. 

The Post story noted that competitors in the industry more consistently rely on E-Verify. But shouldn’t the golf industry, presumably supportive of this policy, proactively push for industry-wide use of the program?

Oh right, they like cheap labor more. Scratch that thought!

Trump Organization Instituting E-Verify At All Golf Properties After Post Story

After a WaPo exclusive on Trump National Westchester firing undocumented workers who had been on the payroll—including one course maintenance worker on staff for nearly two decades—the company will be instituting the E-Verify system at all properties, starting with their golf locations, reports Jonathan O’Connell, Elise Viebeck and Tracy Jan.

“We are instituting E-Verify on all of our properties as soon as possible,” Eric Trump, one of the president’s sons and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said Tuesday, acknowledging that the company currently uses the program only at some locations. “We’re starting with the golf properties, and we are going to be doing all of them.”

The move is the first acknowledgment by the president’s private business that it has failed to fully check the work status of all its employees, despite Trump’s claims during the 2016 campaign that he used E-Verify across his properties. At the time, he called for the program to be mandatory for all employers. 

That should liven up some Golf Industry Show conversations next week!

Presidential Order: Trump Orders Tweaks To Turnberry's New Lighthouse Par-3's

Rear view of the par-3 11th.

Rear view of the par-3 11th.

The MacKenzie and Ebert-revamped Turnberry Ailsa course is spectacular in many ways, with the three-hole stretch at the 9th to the 11th able to stand with any three-hole stretch in the game.

Well it seems President Donald Trump’s July visit—his first since the revamp—prompted some notes. Specifically, making the 9th and 11th greens more receptive. The Daily Record’s Stuart Wilson reports on the Presidential tweaks at 9 and 11:

Turnberry members have been told the 11th, where the most extensive work will take place, could be out of action for up to three months.

The President’s son, Eric, told the Ayrshire Post this week: “We will always look to tweak and make things better where we can.

“This is part of the natural bedding -in process of a new course and we’re making the changes in line with the R&A.

“We want every hole to be perfect and if that means making a few changes like this, we’ll do it.”

I’m curious how much input the R&A has had on any post-reconstruction tweaks. Turnberry is not scheduled to host any R&A events at present.

Go Figure: PGA Tour LatinoAmerica Finale Headed To Trump Doral

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Last I heard the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica was played in…drum roll…Latin America.

Also, multiple sources have reminded me that the PGA Tour was one of several organizations to scold the now President Of The United States for his comments about Mexican immigrants.

The then-candidate Donald Trump then assailed the PGA Tour when it moved the WGC at Trump Doral to Mexico City.

Voila! We have a match made in heaven: Ponte Vedra is jumping at the obvious natural fit by bringing the PGA Tour LatinoAmerica finale to Trump National Doral’s “Golden Palm” course.

Brentley Romine with the confusing details for Golfweek. Did I say confusing? I meant synergistic fit.

Trump Turnberry Misses Profit Forecast By £3 Million

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The Guardian’s Severin Carrell reports on Trump Turnberry’s annual revenue report falling shy of 2017’s predicted income of £18.5 million.

Trump Turnberry’s last accounts show the luxury hotel and golf resort in Ayrshire had an income of £15.2m in 2017 because its takings jumped after he spent more than £100m refurbishing its buildings and courses, and with rooms available at a steep discount.

In January last year, Turnberry’s general manager, Ralph Porciani, told the Guardian he expected 2017 to be the best-performing in the hotel’s history – more than a century – by beating its previous record takings of £16.2m in 2007 by 15% to 20%.

Trump had told the Times that month Turnberry was doing “unbelievably” well because the value of sterling had fallen after Brexit, boosting US and overseas visitors. Turnberry’s earnings for 2017 were much lower than Porciani’s forecast of at least £18.5m though.

The story says the resort is still £107 million in loan debt to President Trump.

Anecdotally, I was struck this summer by how many were still going to Turnberry to test out the courses, but had no plans to stay there for a few days to enjoy the entire facility. Whether this was due to the typical structuring of the traditional American group golf trip or due to cost or for philosophic reasons, was not where you go with a friendly conversation!

Golf Players Poll: Brandel Up, Trump Down, Tour Setups About Right, A Third Concerned About Distance

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The old SI and now all-Golf Magazine/Golf.com players poll is great fun as always, with bad news for President Donald Trump, good news for Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee and a host of other fun topics covered.

But since this blog leans toward course setup, architecture, history and distance debates, the obvious questions of note for yours truly:

ARE YOU CONCERNED THAT TOUR PLAYERS ARE HITTING THE BALL TOO FAR?

YES: 32%
NO: 76%

“I just wish I hit it farther.”
“Equipment has taken a ton of skill away from the game.”
“The problem is that the ball goes too straight.”
“Yes — 300 yards doesn’t cut it anymore.”

32% is a steady number given that 100% believe they are paid to say all distance, some manufacturers are actively pressuring players to preach distance and the PGA Tour and PGA of America leadership believes more distance will grow the game.

Three years ago, the number was at 29%, so the slight increase is amazing given the pressures exerted on players to brag about that athleticism and declare the joys of modern technology advances.

As for bifurcation:

SHOULD THERE BE TWO SETS OF EQUIPMENT REGS: ONE FOR PROS, ANOTHER FOR EVERYONE ELSE?

YES: 39%
NO: 61%

“It would ruin the golf industry.”

Amazing to think the golf industry is seen as dependent on what the players play, not on how much people are enjoying the sport or buying equipment based on need or design intrigue or something other than pro golfers.

This one is a huge win for the PGA Tour Rules referees. Huge!

TOUR SETUPS ARE GENERALLY…

…TOO SHORT: 0%
…TOO LONG: 7%
…ABOUT RIGHT: 93%

“Tour setups are typically, well, too lame.”
“Fact: No one bitches when they’re leading the tournament.”

That 44% thought Phil should have been DQ’d does not suggest much admiration from the PGA Tour set for the USGA rules committee.

SHOULD PHIL HAVE BEEN DQ’D AT SHINNECOCK?

YES: 44%
NO: 54%
NO COMMENT: 2%

“He acted like an idiot. If it were me, I’d be out.”
“He should’ve been praised.”

Rick Reilly's Trump Book Coming In May...

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Because this is the wonderful world of book publishing, it has a cover but the book won't be out until May 2019.

What could happen between now and then? What could happen between today and Friday? 

Anyway, USA Today's Adam Woodard on Rick Reilly signing a book deal for Commander In Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump. 

The two do have a history, as Woodard notes...

Reilly has written numerous books, including a handful about golf, such as 2003's Who's Your Caddy, where he details a round in which he caddied for Trump.

Guardian: "Trump golf resort wrecked special nature site, reports reveal"

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Thanks to all who sent Robin McKie's Guardian shocker that running bulldozers, installing irrigation systems and planting new turfgrasses has fundamentally altered the sensitive dunes at Foveran Links, home now to Trump International Links north of Aberdeen.

The news here is in how long it has taken to reach this conclusion publicly and how it might impact recently announced plans to go forward with the remainder of the development.

Scottish Natural Heritage, which has been under pressure for years to speak out on the issue, now acknowledges that serious damage has been done to the site of special scientific interest (SSSI) at Foveran Links on the Menie estate, north of Aberdeen, since the course opened in 2012, the documents show.

As a result, Foveran’s SSSI status – given because of its unusual shifting sands and diverse plant life – now hangs in the balance.

“Construction of the new golf course involved earthworks, planting of trees, greens and fairways, drainage, irrigation and grass planting,” states one of the reports released by Scottish Natural Heritage inspectors. “This has affected the natural morphology of the dunes and interfered with natural processes. Most of its important geomorphological features have been lost or reduced to fragments. Nearby marine terraces have also been reduced to fragments.”

 

The New Yorker On Trump Turnberry And Financing

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The New Yorker's Adam Davidson takes the opportunity created by Donald Trump's weekend trip to Turnberry to examine how the President financed the renovation. 

Davidson's description of the project itself suggests a bit of ignorance about Turnberry's place in the game, its stature as a world class property and as a potential Open rota venue. 

Nonetheless, the question of why Trump took such a huge financial risk compared to his previous project financing methods. 

 

In this case, the questions are simple. Did Trump take a turn, in the midst of his years-long frenzy of overseas deals with questionable partners, toward the sentimental use of his own cash to fund a hopeless money pit? Or has Trump’s business practice stayed constant? Did he purchase and rehabilitate Turnberry, as he did so much else, with other people’s money?

#liveunderpar Files: Paraglider Tells Trump He's "Well Under Par"

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Fearing a call from PGA Tour lawyers looking to protect the greatest slogan in the history of great slogans, a Greenpeace protester flew disturbingly close to President Donald Trump with a "Well Under Par" banner in tow.

Jack Aitchison of the Daily Record with the story and a video clip of the President walking into the Turnberry hotel and the protester getting shockingly close. 

Doral Revenue Falls $41.1 Million In One Year

Harvested from President Donald Trump's asset disclosure, Trump Doral has shown a massive revenue decline from 2016 to 2017. 

Without a PGA Tour event and other lost business, this is a pretty steep decline:

The statement, released Wednesday by the Office of Government Ethics, show how much his properties, golf clubs and businesses earned last year. The highest-grossing Trump property was the Trump National Doral Golf Club at 4400 Northwest 87th Avenue with $74.7 million in 2017, according to Business Insider. While it raked in the most cash last year, the Doral resort also experienced the biggest dip in revenue compared to the previous year’s $115.8 million.

WaPo On Trump's Move To Cash Acquisitions: $240 Million "In The Hole So Far" For Doonbeg, Turnberry

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 Jonathan O'Connell, David A. Fahrenthold and Jack Gillum take a close look at the Trump Organization's shift from loans to cash or mostly-cash purchases in recent years. 

The President's company has infused way more of his own money into golf than he has with is past real estate ventures. The Trump Organization did not dispute the figures listed in the story.

Of most note were the figures associated with Trump International Aberdeen ($62.5 million to date), Doonbeg and Turnberry.

He began buying up land near Aberdeen, on Scotland’s North Sea coast. Trump ultimately paid $12.6 million for the property. He’s spent at least $50 million more to build a golf course there, which was wrapped up in land-use fights and didn’t open until 2012.

In 2014, he shelled out $79.7 million for the huge golf resorts in Doonbeg, Ireland, and Turnberry, Scotland — both of which were losing money at the time. 

The Trump Organization pursued pricey renovations of both courses, during which time the properties have continued to suffer losses. Under Trump, the two courses are at least $240 million in the hole so far, according to British and Irish corporate records. 

While the story is obviously focused on the shift in philosophy, the expenditures at Turnberry involved an aging luxury hotel that is obviously far more expensive to renovate than the two golf courses there, both remodeled in stellar fashion by Martin Ebert.

R.I.P.: Presidential Seal Tee Plates

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Katherine Sullivan of ProPublica follows up on an initial report of presidential seal tee markers ordered by "Trump International" in likely violation of federal law, with the club now saying the markers have been removed from the ground where they were installed. 

The Palm Beach club said they were a gift from members.

In a statement Tuesday morning, a spokesman for the company said, “The plaques were presented to the club by a small group of members, who are incredible fans of the President, in honor of Presidents day [sic] weekend. They were temporary and have since been removed.”
As our story noted, an order form for the markers lists them as being bought by “Trump International.”

 A post on Sunday, since removed, showed how the Presidents Day weekend commemorative appeared.

"America is being governed by a country-club bore, backed up by other members of the club"

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Michael Goldfarb is the host of the First Rough Draft of History podcast and says he's seen enough of country club life to know that we're watching the country clubization of the United States government. Judging by the number of people and variety of political persuasions of those who sent me this link, Goldfarb's premise scored points.

After all, if you've seen the club world in any form, it's not a leap to consider Goldfarb's premise in this New York Times op-ed:

This country club mind-set is not unique to the United States. All over the world there are clubs with people whose wealth (it doesn’t have to be extreme wealth) buys them extra access to government. Indeed, their businesses require that access to make sure they get government contracts to build office buildings and hospitals or simply pave a local road.

When the country-club class gets directly involved in politics, a country is on a shortcut to disaster.

Equating President Trump to the guy at the club bar with an opinion on about everything, here's a view of the golf club world that could do lasting damage to the game's image.

Those who want to resist Mr. Trump should accept that America is being governed by a country-club bore, backed up by other members of the club — a class that doesn’t worry that it will suffer if he makes a mistake.

President Trump Tees It Up With Tiger, DJ And Someone Else

Oh how quickly they forget!

Having 280 characters at his disposal still didn't encourage the President to get a mention in of the fourth today:

Brad Faron!:

The President is a Taylor Made man!

We did get some Tiger swing video too...

Bloomberg: Golf Course Deduction Currently Safe But Facing Increased Scrutiny In Trump Era

As Republican tax reformers are eliminating many write-offs, the current House version of a new tax bill currently includes the long-controversial deductions for golf course owners promising never to develop their land. While the "loophole" has come close to being closed, it's getting new attention with President Donald Trump's ownership of golf courses using the deduction in ways that contradict the spirit of the law.

Dan Wilchins and Prashant Gopal, reporting for Bloomberg, present a balanced picture, including the important counterpoint to arguments for eliminating the deduction and the relatively small amount of revenue that would be generated by closing the loophole.

In some cases, the tax benefit can make sense. There are communities where golf courses are some of the only open space available. Without the easements, an owner might be tempted to sell out to the highest bidder, which might develop housing on the space, said Sylvia Bates, director of standards and educational services at the Land Trust Alliance, a conservation group.

But in practice, the deductions that land owners take for golf courses are enormous compared with the conservation value, said Ruth Madrigal, a tax lawyer who worked on conservation easements for the U.S. Treasury department during the Obama administration. A developer can build homes and a nearby golf course, get a conservation easement on the links and claim a deduction that can pay for the entire development, she said.