There’s no one quite like Donald Trump to get a golf traditionalist’s knickers in a twist.
This is the man who has described his own New Jersey golf course, Trump National, as better than Pine Valley and took to Twitter during last year’s U.S. Open to blast the “horrible” look of a restored Pinehurst No. 2.
In another declaration that is sure to stir some angst among the old guard, Trump announced his plans this week to transform the par-4 9th at Turnberry’s championship Ailsa Course into a par-3, doing away with a hole that Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington once singled out as “the finest ninth hole on the Open championship rota.”
As it stands, the 454-yarder hugs the cliffs, to the right of Turnberry’s landmark lighthouse, and requires a tee shot over a wave-battered inlet.
Harrington has hailed it as “an iconic hole, a very special place.” Monty called it “our little Pebble Beach.”
But at a press conference at Prestwick Golf Club this week, Trump promised to transform it into a 245-yard par-3. The change will preserve the hole’s dramatic tee shot, a forced carry, Trump told Golf.com, over “water, rocks and waves,” while eliminating an approach shot that some, including Gary Player, have criticized as anti-climactic.
As part of the overhaul, Trump also plans to turn Turnberry’s lighthouse into a comfort station, which the Donald said would be “the greatest half-way house in the world.”
A smattering of other changes are in store for Turnberry, a four-time host of the British Open Championship. But Trump, who purchased the property earlier this year for a reported $35 million, said he would leave it to the R&A to reveal the full scope of the planned modifications.
The bulk of the work is not slated to begin until next fall, after the playing of the 2015 Ricoh Women’s British Open, but it is sure to be completed by 2020, the next most likely date when Turnberry will land the men’s Open again.