Friday, January 14, 2011

Trump Fires First Salvo Against Members of Engineers Club

Donald Trump is moving forward with his attempt to purchase Engineers Country Club in Roslyn Harbor, N.Y., out on Long Island. In today's New York Post story, Trump takes a shot at the segment of the membership that is resisting his bid, calling them, "losers."

Engineers is a fantastic Herbert Strong design that opened in 1918 with Devereux Emmet making changes two years later. It hosted the 1919 PGA Championship, won by Jim Barnes, and 1920 U.S.G.A. Amateur, captured by Chick Evans, and has fantastic greens. The one on the first hole is one of my very favorites in all the world.

Architect Tripp Davis has done some masterful restoration work in recent years. (Pictured here is the 16th green as it appeared shortly after the club opened.)

You can access my profile of Engineers that ran in Links magazine by clicking here.

What is most confounding about Engineers entertaining Trump's bid to purchase the course is that Engineers is on sound financial footing.

"We are cash flow positive," one member told me.

The crux of the dispute comes down to one point. When Trump approached the club about purchasing it, there were 122 equity members along with two classes of "trial members." Trial members were either on a three-year or five-year plan. The difference between the equity and trial memberships comes down to two points: money and voting rights. Equity members pay more annually than trial members and are, therefore, afforded the chance to vote on major issues such as improvement of the golf course or sale of the club. Trial members are allowed the exact same access and benefits, such as tee-times and use of the amenities but have no voting rights.

Within the club, a group of equity members formed, A Better Engineers. They contend that those who were trial members prior to the negotiations commencing with Trump should not be allowed to become voting equity members. The reason being is that under Trump's plan, if he were to buy the club, equity members would pay less in annual dues than trial members do now. Many trial members became full equity members so they could vote to have Trump purchase the club, which would result in lower annual fees. They did so without a thought as to what Trump would do to the layout once it was his.

From initial indications, Trump - as would be expected judging from the other courses he owns - has no understanding or regard for Strong's creation.

Engineer's most famous hole is the 90-yard par-3 known as the Two or 20 Hole, since a golfer could make either score quite easily. The hole was abandoned for a number of years but revived and now embraced by the members. According to one person I talked with, Trump hates it and said he doesn't understand the hole.

He also has no use for the undulations that define Strong's putting surfaces.

"I want my green to run at 12," he told members.

To want Engineers to run at 12 feet on the Stimpmeter would mean some greens would be unfair and most will see excellent pin placements lost. Trump wants 12 on the Stimp, then he'll be leveling greens.

A member I spoke with said the it is not just Trump, but also members of the Engineers board who are the occasional social golfers, who do not grasp Strong's work and, as a result, see no reason in defending the architecture.

"They are not golf course advocates," the member said. "They don't appreciate it. They don't know how good it is."


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  2. Next to the golf cart, he is the worst thing to happen to golf. ugh.