TURNBERRY, Scotland (Reuters) – For Donald Trump, his golfing programs are jewels in his self-branded business empire, from the swaying palm trees of Trump Countrywide Doral in south Florida to the panoramic sea views of Trump Turnberry on the windswept west coast of Scotland.

A view of the resort at the Trump Turnberry Golf Resort Turnberry, Scotland, Britain October 3, 2020. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

When working for U.S. president in 2016, Trump pointed not only to the prestige of his golfing system portfolio, but also to the tactic the resorts represented. Going through skepticism at the time about his monitor report as a businessman, Trump informed Reuters that people who centered on the operating losses at his programs were being missing the position. The “big play” was establishing true estate at the properties, he mentioned.

“My golfing holdings are genuinely investments in countless numbers, a lot of thousands of housing units and motels,” Trump said in the 2016 interview, adding that the programs were in prime locations such as near Manhattan. The method, he reported, associated creating houses on and all-around fairways obtained at a relative discount. The formulation, he added, would make his portfolio of courses “worth lots of instances what I invested.”

Now, as he campaigns for a second presidential term forward of a Nov. 3 election, his company, the Trump Organization, seems to have made small progress in turning that eyesight into fact.

A Reuters overview of satellite imagery and publicly accessible assets filings in the United States and Europe displays that in excess of the earlier decade, the Trump Business has not created a single residential or vacation household at any of the 11 golf properties that according to land documents and the president’s fiscal disclosures are owned outright by the business. Nor has the Trump Business secured rezoning rights to make additional properties at any of individuals homes about the period of time, in accordance to spokespeople for organizing authorities, databases of setting up programs and minutes of scheduling board meetings.

Trump did in 2008 get hold of legal rights to rezone farmland and a coastal reserve in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, to develop hundreds of residences subject matter to creating a golfing study course and a big resort. Though the Trump Organization has converted a manor property into a resort and developed other visitor accommodation, neither he nor the Trump Group have built any residences there.

The Trump Corporation has invested more than $1 billion in the 11 wholly owned golfing qualities given that his first obtain in the late 1990s, according to a Reuters calculation primarily based on data offered by the company, its executives in media interviews and general public data. That sum consists of hundreds of thousands and thousands of dollars invested on revamping his golf resorts, according to the group’s public statements.

“Whatever he thought would materialize when he bought these programs, does not appear to be to have panned out,” claimed Deepak Malhotra, a professor at Harvard Enterprise College, whose do the job focuses on negotiation and deal earning.

Eric Trump, just one of the president’s sons who oversees the company, in a assertion said: “We have the finest golf qualities any place in the earth and just celebrated one particular of the most effective a long time in the history of Trump Golfing,” and that “our small business was up calendar year-about-yr.”

“We are unbelievably proud of the portfolio we have constructed,” he included in the statement.

The White House declined to comment.

The Trump Business, which is owned by Donald Trump, is the umbrella group for his a lot of organizations. He placed the organization in a trust soon after currently being elected, and the organization is now overseen by two of his sons. In addition to golf qualities in the United States, Britain and Ireland that it owns outright, the Trump Corporation leases a few other classes. It has contracts to manage or license its name to various other existing or prepared golfing houses.

Trump, himself a keen golfer, has explained in media interviews about the several years that he procured his classes cheaply – regularly acquiring them out of personal bankruptcy for much less than the past owner put in creating them. “The golfing classes are accomplishing quite properly but they are development offers,” claimed Trump in the course of the 2016 Reuters telephone job interview. Trump claimed in the job interview that he experienced used “much less” than $1 billion on the golfing portfolio.

The then-presumptive Republican presidential nominee didn’t specify a time body for finishing his vision. “At some place the enterprise will do them. With any luck ,, I will not mainly because I will be president, but we’re in no rush to do them.”

The Trump Firm has since 2004 offered some properties and housing heaps about his golfing homes in Westchester County, New York, and in the vicinity of Los Angeles. But these holdings were presently zoned for these kinds of housing when Trump purchased them, according to preparing documents and deeds lodged with the neighborhood counties.

Pressure ON THE Small business

In the meantime, revenues have stagnated in new years. The blended revenues for the 11 golf golf equipment Trump’s group owns outright have enhanced a lot less than inflation for the 5-12 months time period as a result of 2019, the president’s economical disclosures display.

All round, his golfing resorts have racked up losses of $315.6 million considering that 2000, in accordance to a New York Periods report on Trump’s tax returns previous month. Reuters was unable to verify the contents of Trump’s tax returns.

The losses come as other profits streams – these types of as generating fact tv reveals and offers to license his name to condominium properties – is drying up, according to the president’s economic disclosures.

The Trump Firm, which is privately owned, does not publicly disclose its earnings or the benefit of its assets.

When Reuters questioned Trump about his wealth through the 2016 interview he cited an estimate of his web truly worth at the time by Forbes organization magazine of concerning $4 billion and $5 billion, but explained he considered the figure need to be larger since it did not consist of a standalone valuation for his brand name. In March this yr, Forbes placed Trump’s prosperity at $2.5 billion, including $416 million it approximated was the benefit of the 14 golfing qualities he owned or leased – fewer than half of what Reuters calculated his business invested in the 11 golfing property it owns outright.

Using golf courses as a springboard for development revenue is a well-established tactic. Buyers ordinarily focus on attributes with few legal or logistical restrictions to advancement, experts say. Quite a few of Trump’s homes, having said that, have limits these as lawful controls on land use and setting protections or deal with community resistance to improvement, according to residence records, scheduling officials and experts.

Time body is an additional difference: Builders who specialize in redeveloping classes normally focus on websites in which rezoning can be reached inside of a number of decades, and rarely hold their programs open up right after acquisition, claimed Lisa Dilts, an Orlando-based mostly guide who advises developers trying to find to get programs for home development.

“If you had been adhering to Trump as an trader you would have to scratch your head,” stated Michael Kahn, a consultant and former developer based mostly in St. Petersburg, Florida.


At the seaside golf vacation resort of Turnberry on Scotland’s west coast, the white lighthouse and sights of a granite island in the distance have served as the backdrop to battles involving the sport’s greats these as Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson.

Trump, whose mom was Scottish, acquired the golf vacation resort and extra than 200 acres of encompassing agricultural land in 2014. He boasted in the 2016 Reuters interview that he “would have the suitable to establish at the very least a thousand homes on Turnberry, if I preferred to.”

But he has not obtained these kinds of legal rights, according to the area authority, South Ayrshire Council. His corporation has lobbied the council to rezone his encompassing agricultural land and a disused Globe War One airstrip to allow for for the construction of about 225 residential and holiday houses, said a council spokesman and two neighborhood councillors. Having said that, the council very last month did not include things like that revision in its most current 5-to-10 yr advancement plan, council documents clearly show.

Council spokesman Kenny Ross declined to say why council planners turned down the Trump group’s ask for. The council previously this year turned down a independent zoning ask for from another social gathering for a industrial and household growth on land around Turnberry, declaring there was currently adequate zoned land in the spot, according to council information.

One particular afternoon in early Oct, Turnberry club member Sean O’Sullivan walked past a lush golfing eco-friendly surrounded by revetted bunkers, praising the grass as “like velvet.”

But he wouldn’t create a household there, mentioned O’Sullivan, who owns a creating organization in the vicinity of Glasgow.

“I just cannot see the demand from customers,” he mentioned, noting the modest bordering South Ayrshire community, far from a town and with couple of transport backlinks.

REZONING Development

On Scotland’s east coast, north of the city of Aberdeen, sits the only golf study course the place the Trump corporation has acquired developing rights on the bordering land.

But on that land, he has not developed any houses.

In 2006, Trump bought much more than 1,000 acres around the village of Balmedie. Two many years later, he secured authorization in principle from the Scottish governing administration to establish about 1,500 getaway apartments and household houses on the farmland presented that he also crafted a large resort and a championship-level golfing class.

In the 2016 Reuters job interview, Trump stated that securing the approval was evidence of his rezoning talents, especially simply because he succeeded in getting permission to create a golfing study course on a protected conservation region. “I purchased the land for the suitable price because you weren’t even authorized nearly to wander on the dunes, let on your own establish important golf programs there,” he explained.

Scotland, hoping for a tourism increase, viewed the prospect of countless numbers of new work opportunities created by the resort as a powerful argument to overrule environmental concerns, in accordance to remarks by govt ministers at the time.

In September previous calendar year, Trump scored a victory when Aberdeenshire Council agreed his Trump Group could proceed with developing 500 non-public residences without the need of fulfilling the 2008 condition of making a huge resort, in accordance to council records.

The council informed Reuters talks are ongoing to finalize issues that would let design to begin, including how substantially the Trump Group will contribute to assist up grade local infrastructure and meet very affordable housing requires.

In accordance to a site for the venture, options consist of townhouses and mansions at rates of up to £1.3 million ($1.69 million). People selling prices equate to a premium on a for each square foot foundation of approximately 20% higher than other substantial conclusion homes in the Aberdeen place when in comparison to costs marketed by true estate agents.

Estate brokers explained that the neighborhood market place would just take time to absorb so numerous significant finish properties, particularly amid weakness in the North Sea oil field.

“Will you get a dozen people today who want to boast to their mates that they dwell on a Trump system? Likely,” stated Eric Shearer, a husband or wife with British serious estate company Knight Frank, who aided provide the land to the Trump Firm and who routinely enjoys playing Trump’s training course. “Will you have 500 of them? Unquestionably not.”

Trump, in the 2016 Reuters interview, expressed self-confidence that need would recover.

Improvement Limits

In some circumstances, Trump faces pre-current limitations to enhancement.

Trump Firm homes in Jupiter, Florida, Colts Neck in New Jersey and near Charlotte, North Carolina, can only be operated as golf programs and are not able to be repurposed for other uses, in accordance to deed restrictions lodged with the local municipalities.

And in Los Angeles County, in which his cliff-top rated Trump National Golfing Club sits, the nearby municipality and other companies call for the site’s owner to retain open place and to maintain regional flora and fauna, in accordance to setting up documents. The former operator had agreed to preserve open up areas and community entry in get to secure zoning rights for the 75 homes that Trump in 2002 bought the residence with.

The course was amongst these Trump in the 2016 Reuters interview discovered as acquiring large potential for enhancement. But the limits in area necessarily mean it will be challenging to protected legal rights to build more housing, actual estate lawyers stated. For 1 issue, the area management and residents have strongly resisted makes an attempt by builders to more intensely acquire the area, claimed William Koehler, a Los Angeles-primarily based law firm who specializes in zoning matters.

Extra Koehler: “Knowing the composition of the local community out on the peninsula and historically, the way they have reacted (to improvement), I believe it would be a serious uphill struggle.”

Reporting by Tom Bergin Supplemental reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland Modifying by Tom Lasseter and Cassell Bryan-Low