Western Exposure

Trump Dooneg 14th Hole (Photo: Steve Carr / Trump Doonbeg)

Doonbeg was in the Trump spotlight last week and my teeth are hurting. I’ve been grinding them so hard that my jaw aches. I subscribe to Google Alerts with the simple parameter of ‘Irish Golf’, and two weeks of grinding have left me in need of a visit to my dentist.

Yes, Donald Trump came to Ireland. Not that you’d have known. The media kept it very quiet. As did Trump. There was absolutely no global promotion of Doonbeg, whatsoever…

Except on my Google Alerts which have been raging about nothing but Trump’s trip to Ireland for a fortnight.

But for the global exposure that Doonbeg received, I’d almost feel sorry for the resort. There are those who love Trump, including those at the resort and many in the local community, but for most people he is a pariah, a man who divides opinion even more severely than Marmite.

It’s tough on Doonbeg. Those who are anti-Trump will blackball the resort – ‘I’m not giving that man my money’ attitude – while pro-Trump supporters are vocal advocates. There are few courses that generate (and deflect) so much business based on the owner’s name.

The thing is, Doonbeg is a fine and inventive links. I very much enjoyed Norman’s original layout (2002) but the changes in 2015/16 by Martin Hawtree made it even better. These changes would not have happened without Trump who hired Hawtree in the first place so that’s one tick in the plus column.

But Trump’s name presents a quandary. Do you play a links that stands on its own merit (Irish Golfer placed it 15th in its Top 100) or do you refuse because of the name above the door?

I’m delighted Trump has gone back to the USA: maybe now things can return to normal, conversations will drift back to Rory’s chances of winning the US Open, and Google Alerts will tell me that another VW Golf has been involved in an accident near a golf course.