Tycoon Donald Trump struck the first ball on his new luxury golf course in Scotland on Tuesday, teeing off in a ceremony alongside golfing great Colin Montgomerie.
The Trump International Golf Links, situated at Menie, north of Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland, cost more than $155 million to build.
Bagpipers escorted Trump and 2010 European Ryder Cup captain Montgomerie to the first hole, where the businessman cut a ribbon on the first tee before taking a swing.
“We have built something that some people have already said is perhaps the greatest golf course in the world,” he said.
“It’s something that’s going to be very special.
“What’s good for golf is good for Scotland because Scotland is the home front for golf.”
Montgomerie called it “an honor” to be at the course’s opening day. “It makes me very proud to be a professional Scottish golfer,” he said.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s executive vice president, predicted to Newsmax that the Trump International Golf Links will soon be known as “the greatest golf course in the world,” and revealed that film legend Sean Connery, a Scot and a keen golfer, had already become a member.
“The course just opened today and immediately it was ranked as the 8th best golf course in the world,” said Cohen. “This is unprecedented in the history of golf. A course has never been honored with this high status the day it opened. It takes years, even decades, before a course gets this kind of ranking.
“It is only a matter of time before it will be known as the greatest golf course in world.
“When Mr. Trump sets out to do something he always has one goal in mind—to make it the best in the world. He has walked and studied every inch of the 3 mile coastline on the course to ensure that members would enjoy a course unparalleled anywhere in the world, a course full of aesthetics and playability.
The project’s final cost will exceed one billion dollars.
Environmental campaigners opposed the construction of the course on protected sand dunes, but it was welcomed by business leaders. “For Aberdeen and the north-east to sustain its economy beyond the oil and gas industry we have to look at a number of value-added projects,” said George Yule, the local Chamber of Commerce president.
Trump himself complained about a potential offshore windfarm being built near the site.
The course will open to the public on Sunday, with a private events being held this week.
Sandy Jones, chief executive of the Professional Golfers’ Association, and George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, said they would work to bring major golf events to the course.
Trump is a keen fan of golf, and does not join in GOP attacks on President Barack Obama for spending time on the course.
“I’ve never criticized Obama for playing golf,” he told Newsmax. “Golf helps you take your mind off things. And it’s great for making deals.”
He told Newsmax earlier this year how he had once been “at war” with a banker and they met by chance on the golf course.
“I told him, ‘Let’s forget our differences and just have fun.’ And he agreed. As we were playing, I noticed that his grip was all wrong and that his shots were bad. I told him how to change his grip. And he hit a perfect shot. He ended up playing the best round in his life, and I helped him a lot by straightening out his grip.
“Afterward, this banker said to me, ‘Donald, let’s meet next week and straighten out this business problem.’ And I made a fantastic deal with him and made my comeback. I was no longer on a $400,000-a-month living allowance from the banks. Without golf, I might not be sitting here with you and discussing the state of our country and presidential politics.”