There’s no denying that Donald Trump is a great promoter. And he is prone to see everything he creates as “the best.” It is both belief and goal when he talks that way. Belief that what he produces really is that good. And goal in always striving to reach that level of excellence.
Sometimes, the Donald lets his enthusiasm get the better of him, which causes observers to take what he says with a grain or two of salt. That’s what I did when I played a round with him earlier this month, and listened to him rave about one of his latest construction efforts: the Ferry Point course on an old landfill in the shadow of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge in New York City.
“It’s the best,” he said. “It’s a great golf course and will one day host multiple professional golf championships, including a U.S. Open.”
I was doubtful of that pronouncement, and felt the same way a couple of weeks later when I accepted an invitation from Trump to play Ferry Point in an outing he arranged for a handful of his good golfing friends. I was the only writer in the group, and we would be the first ones to play the nascent track.
I was excited to see the Jack Nicklaus design, which has been under various forms of construction since 1998 and to date has cost more than $250 million to build. And I was curious about how Trump had salvaged what had been a poster child for municipal malfeasance when he took over the project 14 months ago.
“We are not opening until the spring of 2015,” he proclaimed. “But I wanted to give these people a chance to see it. It really is something special.”
Only nine holes were opened for our October outing, but that was enough to tell me that my skepticism was misguided. Ferry Point is indeed a special track. Totally devoid of trees and buffeted by winds off the East River and Long Island Sound, it looks, feels and plays like a classic links. I was enticed by the design and routing as well as the native grasses and manufactured dunes stretching out in all directions.
I loved the ground game it compelled me to play. And I was also enthralled with the setting, on more than 200 acres just eight miles from midtown Manhattan. I saw and heard traffic on the parkway bordering the course as I played. I watched planes fly in and out of nearby LaGuardia Airport and boats cut across the chop of the East River. I used landmarks from the city as sight lines for drives and approach shots. The Empire State Building on some holes. The Freedom Tower on others.
Ferry Point is going to be a public course, and I can see golfers of all ages and abilities flocking there the way theatergoers rush to a hot Broadway show. I also can envision the pros competing on the layout, and I imagine them enjoying playing the course as much as spectators will like walking the grounds during events. Ditto those at home watching what is most definitely a made-for-TV golf course on TV. I even foresee a U.S. Open.
All hyperbole aside, the Donald appears to be right about this one.