Donald Trump details his golfing ambitions, dustups with Jack Nicklaus, the USGA and Golf Digest

Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster
Hunter Public Relations
Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster
Bedminster, N.J.

OPENED 2004
ARCHITECT Tom Fazio
PAR 72 (7,565 yards)
INITIATION FEE $350,000
ANNUAL DUES $18,000
MEMBERS 325
RANKINGS Golf Magazine Top 100 in the U.S. (48th), Top 100 in the World (87th); GolfWeek's Best Courses/Modern (49th), Best Courses/New (3rd)

Huge greens, wide fairways, immense tee boxes, sprawling bunkers — yet the course is very playable and easy to walk.

On another day he called George W. Bush a "moron," but he didn't sound angry. Mike Tyson's name came up, and I asked Trump if Tyson was smart.

"Let me answer your question this way," Trump said. "Is he street smart? Absolutely. Is he smart for money? Mike Tyson has fought for $500 million in purses. He owes $50 million. Now you tell me."

Trump plays in a lot of pro-ams. One morning, when I was about to leave home to play in a three-day pro-am on the Champions tour, I asked him what he did to combat nervousness.

"You've got to remember, it does not matter," Trump said.

"Your pro is watching, fans are watching, but nobody cares what you do to the ball. It does not matter."

I asked him, "What does matter to you?"

"Family. Health things. Some things in business." He was silent for a half second. "That's about it."

Regarding the Trump course in West Palm Beach . . .

I've had a complete turnaround about it. All the holes are good, many are risk-reward, and it's easy to enjoy the entire experience, once you turn yourself over to the Trump way of doing things. That means you valet park and some kid who is probably a scratch golfer carries your bag to the starter and you're probably going to have a caddie and a cart. The course remains a complete fabrication and crazy expensive to maintain. But you know what? At some point the fun of the course takes over, if you can learn to bury your inner snob. Maybe I've been corrupted.

The course in the Caribbean — Trump International, Raffles Resort, on tiny Canoaun Island — is a thing of beauty, dramatic and hilly, with really good grass, which is unusual in the Caribbean. The place is sun-drenched day after day, or it was when I was there. If you win the lottery and go, make sure you pack plenty of balls. You can't find many shots off the fairways, which are about as slender as the contestants in another Trump property, the Miss Universe pageant.

There was only one Trump course that I could play without any introduction from Trump or his golf guy Cooper, and that was the public course near Long Beach, Calif., called Trump National, Los Angeles. I parked my own car and went into the clubhouse and ordered breakfast, which never arrived. (Somehow the order got lost.) When I went to warm up on the driving range, I was moved off the real grass and onto the plastic mats. In the locker room I couldn't find a towel for a postround shower. I didn't receive, as they say, the Trump National treatment. The course is spectacular, with its views of the Pacific and its el-evated tees and its swooping greens, and the land is crisscrossed with public ways. You watch surfers traversing the course on their way to the beach. A nice scene. But a lot of the holes look like complicated engineering feats, which is not a good thing. Trump likes to compare his Los Angeles course with Pebble Beach. The similarities are that they are both in California, both on the Pacific, both slow and both expensive. You might consider saving up and playing Trump L.A. I don't feel any need to play it again. Maybe you'll feel differently.

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