Irish golf tour operators weigh in on Donald Trump's potential impact at Doonbeg

It's no secret that Donald Trump made a few enemies while building his Trump International Golf Links, Scotland.

Tour operators who sell golf packages in Ireland said Trump has received a warm Irish welcome since buying the Lodge at Doonbeg in County Clare in February for a reported 15 million euros. But will it last? Trump does have some turf wars potentially looming against another wind farm and supporters of the rare snail that derailed Greg Norman's original vision for his links course at Doonbeg.

Marty Carr, the CEO of Carr Golf Travel, said the fact that Doonbeg previously had a popular American owner (Kiawah Partners of South Carolina) should help Trump. The 500-acre property along the Atlantic Ocean will eventually be rebranded the Trump International Golf Links, Ireland.

"The Irish are very resilient and open minded," Carr said. "We are closer to Americans than the Scottish. We are like the 51st state. There is a greater appreciation and understanding of what comes with (American ownership). In Scotland, he was taking on the planners with a new build. Doonbeg is already there. The previous builders and developers were well liked. You have one American owner (transferring) to another. That will stabilize jobs. The majority of people are happy and appreciate and accept this."

Trump has already hired Martin Hawtree, his designer at Trump International Golf Links, Scotland, to possibly completely rebuild Doonbeg's links and to address costly erosion caused by winter storms. Hawtree is well respected in Ireland for his work on legendary links at Lahinch, Royal Dublin and Portmarnock. Trump and Hawtree could attempt to design new holes into the dunes originally off limits to Norman: 51 acres of grey dunes and other now-fenced-in areas home to the Vertigo angustior, a microscopic snail listed for protection under the European Union's Habitats Directive.

"In my views, there is no better man to work on the links than Hawtree," Carr said. "I expect to see changes. I'm not sure how much the snail will make it difficult. I'm not sure what the state of things is there. Mr. Trump is not used to taking no."

Case in point: Trump scaled back his plans in Scotland after losing a legal challenge over an offshore wind farm. A vote to erect nine wind turbines two kilometers south of the village of Doonbeg could take place later this month, another potential snag in Trump's vision for his new resort.

No matter what happens, Trump's name recognition should ultimately help a struggling Irish golf market rebound quicker, according to Gordon Dalgleish, the president and co-founder of PerryGolf, a luxury tour operator.

"The last few years Ireland hasn't rebounded like Scotland" when it comes to golf tourism, he said. "It doesn't hurt that someone as high profile as Trump is engaged."

Justin Farrell, who founded the Links of Ireland in 2013, agreed.

"There is no doubt that Ireland will benefit from the considerable resources and marketing campaign the Trump Organization will put in place to promote both their Scottish and Irish resorts. I believe the more companies out there promoting Ireland, the better.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.

Related Links

Jason Scott Deegan offers 10 tips for first-timers looking to make their Irish golf vacation a success.
4 Min Read
American golfers know certain golf courses in Ireland by name even if they haven't played them. Take Ballybunion, Lahinch, Royal County Down and Royal Portrush, for example. But there are plenty of Irish links that aren't household names in the U.S. yet -- but they should be. Jason Scott Deegan offers up 10 of them, including Tralee, County Sligo, Enniscrone, Rosapenna and Portstewart.
5 Min Read
Jason Scott Deegan has had some great memories playing golf in Ireland. He's been there seven times and can't wait to go back. Maybe some of his favorite photos over the years will convince you to jump on the next overnight flight to Dublin or Shannon. After all, a golf trip to the Emerald Isle never disappoints.
21 Images
My first trip to Carne Golf Links was one of many highlights during my recent 10-day journey across northwest Ireland.
5 Min Read
More from the author
3 Min Read
October 3, 2022
Yeti is out to beat the heat, single-use plastics and par at this unique golf event that may be coming to a course near you.
4 Min Read
September 26, 2022
We also share more about the latest golf fashions in our monthly GolfPass Gear News and Reviews column.
5 Min Read
September 25, 2022
Whether you're ready to buy that dream golf house or visiting for a weekend, this ski town is heaven for golfers.
5 Min Read
September 25, 2022
The USGA knocked it out of the park with a new event, unique championship venues in 2022.
3 Min Read
September 18, 2022
Matthews, who passed away Sept. 15, 2022, designed and renovated more than 200 courses, mostly in Michigan.
2 Min Read
September 12, 2022
Rory McIlroy and other stars are playing to get the early scoop on the newly renovated course, which will host next year's Ryder Cup.
6 Min Read
September 6, 2022
Portmarnock Hotel, Galgorm Castle, Rosapenna and Slieve Russell pair well with spellbinding links like The Island and St. Patrick's Links.
5 Min Read
September 12, 2022
Silverado is primed to host the 2022 Fortinet Championship this week.
9 Min Read
September 18, 2022
The PGA Tour stalwart and 2017 PGA Championship venue gets its first taste of international match-play intrigue.
7 Min Read
September 20, 2022
The resort may date to 1895, but it is constantly finding new ways to engage its visitors in a way that feels as enduring as the game itself.
Load More
Now Reading
Irish golf tour operators weigh in on Donald Trump's potential impact at Doonbeg