Ivan Morris: Donald Trump has two redeeming features

Ivan Morris

Reporter:

Ivan Morris

Ivan Morris: Donald Trump has two redeeming features

Some are calling Donald Trump reprehensible but from my narrow, golf nut viewpoint he has two redeeming features.

If given the chance he will shake up the atrophic and self-serving, political dynasties that populate Washington DC and he builds great golf courses.

Trump may be one of the great exaggerators but I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that his golf courses at Doonbeg, Turnberry and Aberdeen are at least as good as the best.

Indeed, it is remarkable that golfers in County Limerick are 'surrounded' by such world-class facilities as Ballybunion, Lahinch, Doonbeg and Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort, now owned by JP McManus, where I had a peek over the fence recently to spy on what might be happening?

I could not believe my eyes. Here was what was often described as 'Ireland's Best Parkland Golf Course' blown to smithereens and reduced to sandy desert.

Back to Doonbeg, where I don't think I have ever been more impressed or genuinely surprised. You can say what you like about The Donald but he sure knows how to present a golf course both design-wise and maintenance-wise.

The changes that I had the pleasure to see last week for the first time - on every hole - are both extensive and subtle and have been carried out with a sharp eye for detail that is both invigorating and breathtaking.

Never mind the golf holes, the paths that link the holes are a joy to walk over. They surpass the new grass paths at Lahinch by a considerable margin, which is saying something.

I'd pick out the walks up from the 14th green to the 15th tee for special mention. Also, on the way from the 15th to 16th, you can turn around and have a look backwards down the entire course from the new, back tee at the 4th.

If you can find a suitable superlative to describe this 673-yards hole, stretching out below you - you have a better vocabulary than I but don't attempt to play it without a rifle.

I honestly did not think that Doonbeg could ever be so good. I was quite happy with the original Greg Norman version and even enjoyed some of the quirks created by The Shark.

Give the new greens a year to bed down and speed up and the new Doonbeg will be a more than adequate test for the best - especially if they tackle it on a windy day in the Irish Open from the back tees.

I'd pay a lot of money to see Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett, at their best, tackling this amazing 673-yards long, 4th hole.

From my house, as the crow flies, Doonbeg, Lahinch and Ballybunion are more or less an equal distance away. It is often a problem for me to decide, which of them I should travel to for a game?

I don't complain about it because I know I don't deserve to be so lucky. Each of them presents different challenges. I'm convinced that off the back markers Doonbeg is by far the most difficult.

I couldn't even attempt it. At Lahinch and Ballybunion, I could try and sometimes do.

From ‘the whites,’ Doonbeg is by far the easiest of the three and, arguably, the most fun to play. One of the arts of good, golf course design is to build courses that 'play easier than they look' while giving the impression that they were created by nature herself and have been there forever.

Greg Norman must be given some of the credit. The most difficult and critical part of course building is deciding on the routing. Martin Hawtree, Trump's Designer, had the sense to leave well enough alone.

However, every hole has been changed in varying degrees. The framing and separation of the holes is tasteful and spectacular. The recompenses for straight shooting are more rewarding than heretofore.

The creation of new green aprons, run offs and chipping areas is sublime - none more so than at the 16th, which was often an unfair hole as balls were swept away off the putting surface for no good reason.

Moving the tees to the left, took the large dune in the environmentally protected area out of play. The green has been 'pushed back and lifted.' It is now more likely to treat an approach fairly.

Other features: the green at the short 9th has been pushed back into the dunes and made wider.

The front of the 10th green has been opened up ever so slightly and flattened. The bunker in the middle of the 12th green is no more.

The new 14th is a delightful, drop down par-3, hole without a bunker in sight - there is no need - there are so many subtle run offs, front, back, right and left.

It was an easy 9-iron shot from the back tee because I played with a helping wind. The prevailing wind comes from the other side and will present a completely different challenge.

I loved the quirkiness of the short, par-4, 3rd hole but now it is played through a corridor of wild dunes, requiring razor sharp accuracy.

The match play finale of this year's Midwest Alliance (under the much vaunted 54/16 format) will be played at Doonbeg in December - golfers in this area would be fools to miss out on the opportunity to try to qualify.