Donald Trump factor hangs heavy over WGC’s future at Blue Monster
Will he, won’t he? The speculation regarding a appearance at Doral this weekend is matched by a debate regarding the future of the tournament.
Cadillac’s sponsorship of the first WGC event of the year will end after the trophy presentation on Sunday. There is no apparent sense that the deal will be renewed, leaving matters of location from 2017 open to conjecture.
Any sense that the has some kind of meaningful power in this supposedly “world” scenario is offset by events surrounding the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational being played at the same time as the French Open this summer. This will be the PGA Tour’s call; one jointly determined by politics and finance.
Trump, typically, is bullish about the prospect of his Doral venue hosting this stellar field for a final time. In fact he openly shrugs it off. “I really haven’t,” said Trump when asked if he had entered discussions with the about what may come. “Look, it’s very expensive for me to have the tournament there because [otherwise] I have 100% room occupancy. It costs me a lot of money.
“So if they want to move it, that’s up to them. I think they would be foolish to want to move it, because it’s the best course in Florida. It’s the best tournament course in Florida by far, and it’s a big course; it’s got tremendous history.
“I can’t imagine … They haven’t told me that at all [about moving] and I think that they would. There’s nothing comparable to Doral. If you’re going to play in Miami, we have massive numbers of rooms, the best location right next to the airport and we have the Blue Monster, which has gotten phenomenal reviews. It’s a brand-new course now. But if they did move it, I would make more money.”
A number of factors come into play here, not just that fundamentally crucial m-word. Trump himself is clearly a factor, as will be demonstrated by levels of attention if, as has been rumoured, he turns up to watch day two of this competition. Secret service vehicles have been spotted on the premises even without what had become the standard arrival of the Trump helicopter.
In years gone by, Trump would spend the week here revelling in every opportunity for publicity. Last year, after and was subsequently reunited with it by Trump, proved a case in point.
Were he to be elected the president of the United States this year it would seem unlikely at best that the PGA Tour would preside over a situation where a significant event was withdrawn from one of the tycoon’s properties. And yet, the Tour has stipulated a contradiction between many of Trump’s views and its own aspirations of a “welcoming environment for the game of golf”. Would it swat such fears aside in order to have a direct line to the White House? It seems safe to assume so, such is the blunt reality of commercial life.
The new choice of sponsor – added to its own plans – will itself be relevant, as is what geographical scope there is for tournaments at this stage of the year. Florida will always be the preferred location, on grounds of the weather if nothing else.
For all Trump’s bluster and despite his decadent refurbishment of Doral, a straw poll of leading players would not show strong favouritism for the Blue Monster course. The impression is that plenty of that group turn up out of obligation. “Golf has been very good for me,” Trump added to Golfweek. “It’s been a very good business. It’s not my major business by any stretch but it’s been a good business for me. I’ve bought some of the best sites in the world actually, . And I bought them at the depths of the market. Today, you can’t buy them.
“I bought Doral and 800 acres in Miami, the best location, 10 minutes from the airport. That property today would cost many times what I paid for it. And then because I was able to buy it, I could have done a C job or D job. I could have painted or fixed, and it would have been OK. By the way, it would have been the best return on investment, probably. But I can’t. That’s of no relevance to me. So I did the A-plus job. I gutted everything down. I ripped down buildings and built brand-new buildings. Now it’s really finished. It’s gorgeous.
“I’m a fan of golf and I’m a fan of a lot of the people in the golf industry. I like them. I had great relationships with a lot of the people. It’s a great industry and employs a lot of people. It’s good for the country. It’s good for the world.”