FOLLOWING their short visit to the newly re-branded Trump International Golf Links Ireland in Doonbeg last week, the new owners will be back in West Clare next week.
Donald Junior and Eric Trump held talks last week with golf club management as they outlined their plans for their new purchase.
However on Wednesday a golf club spokesperson said that “nothing firm” has been decided upon, with regard to adding to the facilities at the five star resort.
However, speaking last Thursday morning, while the Trump brothers were at the Doonbeg resort, general manager, Joe Russell said that, in his view, the golf club will be added to.
“For me, we expand our facilities. I don’t have the definitive yet as to what they’re thinking about doing. But there will be things put in to grow the business. I know from my experience what’s needed to grow the business,” Mr Russell told The Clare Champion.
“We’re going on to the field of play now. Everywhere the Trump Organisation goes it appears to have an effect. There’s a media impact, there’s an operational and business impact,” he added.
However , he stressed that the Doonbeg community will continue to be part of the fabric of the resort.
“Certainly the local community see themselves as being, in many ways, responsible for a business being here at all. Many of them have worked with the club from a community perspective. I have very good friends in this community. We had 30 people or so from the local community here the day we went into receivership. I said I’d be back to talk to them as soon as this went to the next stage. It’s my intention to talk to them again. It’s not the castle on the hill. It’s part of the community. If you ever move away from that ethos and you become anything other than that, I think you’ll struggle,” Mr Russell said.
“Forty per cent of our market is North American. What those people want to do is go to the village, drive around and if there’s any hostility towards the club, that will seep out,” he pointed out.
Mr Russell says that the ‘Trump Effect’ is already evident.
“Our website had five times more traffic the day of the announcement. They have the resources, they have the engine in terms of marketing and there is a structure there. They will probably move us a little bit out of our comfort zone as to how we do things. But that’s to be expected. They’re coming here to take what’s here to the next level in terms of the amenity development. They’re going to bring an awful lot to the party in terms of expertise,” the general manager predicted.
Calculating that Clare is home to or borders an international airport, four castles, the Atlantic Ocean, the River Shannon, 10 golf courses along with the Loop Head peninsula, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher, Joe Russell says that this is a huge selling point in North America.
“This is a destination now. Where else would you get that and now Trump has arrived in Clare. There’s not another county like it. Instead of people talking about, sometimes, what we don’t have, they should be talking about what we do have. You can’t sell what you don’t have. When I go out to the states I talk about all of that and then I talk about Doonbeg,” he revealed.
“Somebody said to me a while ago that whenever you start a project like this, the first owner always goes through the pain and the hardship. It’s the second or third owners who reap the benefits. It’s a huge vote of confidence for Ireland, Clare and west Clare. ‘We got Donald Trump,” the Trump International Golf Links Ireland general manager concluded.