September 17, 2004
Next phase of project includes $5M to $8M estates
New Trump golf development provokes mixed reaction from wealthy residents
With a famously aggressive owner and a cameo on his hit television series The Apprentice, Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles is attracting lots of attention—not all of it positive.
Donald Trump has sued the local school district, which owns a patch of land in the middle of the yet-to-open course overlooking the Pacific.
When he wanted to rename the course’s access road Trump National Drive, locals vented in e-mails to the city that perhaps Ego Aisle or Narcissism Lane might be more appropriate, according to the Daily Breeze newspaper.
And some residents feel snubbed because The Donald has tagged Los Angeles to the club’s name when maps clearly place it in Rancho Palos Verdes, a tiny municipality of multimillion dollar homes about 50 kilometres southwest of downtown Los Angeles.
Trump dismisses the opposition with his signature selfconfidence.
“If you check with the other places that I’ve built—you know, courses—they are all in love with me,” Trump said. “In..d the end, Palos Verdes will like me more than any other citizen or any of its politicians.” The Tr..dump course replaces the existing Ocean Trails layout, which closed in August. After extensive renovations that will cost Trump $30 million (all funds U.S.), his fourth course is set to open early next year.
Trump earned praise when he bought the property in 2002 for $27 million.
Many residents believed he had the money and business acumen to make the course successful after its previous owners ran it into bankruptcy and a 1999 landslide nearly dumped its 18th hole into the ocean.
The course was limited to 15 holes until it closed.
Even before the club closed, manager Mike Vandergoes said the billionaire ordered nine Waterford chandeliers installed at $85,000 each, replaced terracotta tile with marble and installed at the club’s entrance a 30-foot fountain from Florence, Italy.
“He likes his materials all rich,” said Robert L. Earl, an architect Trump hired to work on the property.
“Everything is in marbles and granites and gold finish.”
Homes designed by Earl on sites surrounding the course will be built in the next phase of Trump’s development plan, slated for October or November.
The homes will be priced between $5 million and $8 million and have been advertised in national magazines and newspapers.
His own mansion will be built on a lot overlooking the fourth hole.
Trump later hopes to add bungalow-style visitor accommodations adjacent to the course.
But up until now, managers say the New York-based tycoon has been focused on the course itself, playing it on every visit he makes to California and issuing directions on the smallest details, down to how the grass should be cut.
Between trips, he sends managers pictures and articles from golf magazines, with notes in black pen. He calls up to five times a week for progress reports.
Employees say he’s also asks what they think of his NBC reality show.
The ventures are somewhat linked. At the end of last season, The Apprentice winner Bill Rancic was offered a choice between two jobs: managing the new course or overseeing a 90-story building project in Chicago. Rancic chose the job in Chicago, his hometown.
Trump has said the new course could be the setting for a future season of the show.
For now, backhoes and dump trucks trundle across the site, changing the Pete Dye-designed course from a 6,400- yard, par-72 layout, to a 7,350-yard, par-71 setup.
An island green and several waterfalls will be installed and gray bunker sand is being removed in favour of blindingly white crushed marble.
Although the improved course will still be open to the public—unlike Trump’s other clubs, which carry hefty $300,000 membership fees and annual dues of $15,000— playing 18 holes will cost between $195 and $300, course managers said. Previously, the course charged $99 to $120.
Vincent Stellio, a Trump executive vice-president who oversees golf projects, said the courses aren’t just about profit. Trump wants the properties to be top-rated and says that his new site will be “better than Pebble Beach.”
A Trump course in West Palm Beach was ranked among Florida’s best by Golf Digest Magazine, but didn’t crack the elite top-100 rankings.
A course in Bedminster, N.J., has yet to open and another in Westchester north of New York City opened too recently to have been ranked.
The new course already has fans. Patrick Steele and a friend drove an hour and a half to play before it closed last month.
Both men shelled out $75 for Trump National polo shirts at the pro shop.
“We came because of the Trump name,” Steele said.
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