“You’re the one-man answer to the golf recession.” That’s the conclusion Golf.comreporter Gary Van Sickle came to at the end of a 2012 interview with Donald Trump. The real estate developer had just spoken at length about his growing golf portfolio, which now includes 17 courses worldwide. Trump’s conclusion: “I’m good for golf.”
Golf’s leading power brokers couldn’t have agreed more. In May 2014, Trump struck a deal to bring a men’s major—the 2022 PGA Championship—to his Trump National Bedminster course in New Jersey. In an interview with the Golf Channel, then-president of the PGA of America Ted Bishop said, “We look forward I think to a long relationship with the Trump family, and I’m sure that this announcement yesterday probably just scratches the surface in regard to some of the things we’re going to do in the future with him.” Bishop agreed with Trump’s self-important assessment of his role in the sport and took it one step further, saying, “Donald Trump is great for golf.”
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, Trump played the part of golf’s savior, swooping in and buying a number of prestigious-but-failing courses in the United States and abroad. He renovated the properties and marketed them to golf’s ruling bodies, which, swayed by promises of profit, lined up to stage exhibitions, tour stops, and major championships on Trump courses. Among those events is the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral in Miami, where the world’s top golfers—including Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Jason Day—will compete starting Thursday.