Despite continuing controversy, Donald Trump hit the opening tee shot today (Tues) at his new Trump International Scotland course just north of Aberdeen in Scotland.
Security was tight at the opening with guests having to pass by four seperate security check points ahead of the arrival of Trump.
The multi-millionaire American businessman, dressed casually in a red hat, red jacket, white shirt and white trousers, first met with a handful of guests privately including victorious Ryder Cup Captain, Colin Montgomerie and European Tour CEO, George O’Grady along with course designer, Martin Hawtree, before joining the main body of guests.
A short time later two Scottish pipers led Trump and guests down the winding path from the guest’s marquee to the first tee. (See photo)
Hawtree first addressed the audience followed by Monty who then introduced O’Grady.
Sandy Jones, Chairman of the British PGA, then spoke before Trump was introduced.
Trump stepped forward for a short speech before being handed a pair of scissors to cut the ceremonial ribbon ahead.
“This has been long sought and we are very proud of it,” said Trump.
“Everyone involved has worked so hard and long and toiled, and you have no idea the hours that they spent walking every dune, trying to preserve every single inch of this land.
“We are just honoured that Martin (Martin) did such a fantastic job and I want to thank the folk who have supported us from day one like Sandy Jones (Chairman, British PGA) and George O’Grady.
“This is going to be a very important thing for Aberdeen and Scotland. When I bought the land seven years ago I looked at it and said I really believe on this piece of land we can create the greatest golf course anywhere in the world.
“Peter Dawson (CEO, R & A) recommended Martin Hawtree, it was one of the great pieces of advice I ever had, because Martin really fulfilled every ounce of what he thought he had in him.
“We have built something that some people have already said is perhaps the greatest golf course in the world.
“I think it’s something that is going to be very special and hopefully iconic.
“It’s a special place and Scotland is a special place. My mother was a great woman, she loved Scotland would go back there every year religiously and she would be very proud today.
“This is great for golf and what’s good for golf is good for Scotland because it’s the home of the game.”
There was then a humorous moment when photographers asked Trump if he could remove his cap for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and with Trump remarking: “My hair will blow all over the place now”.
Of course, Trump’s blond hair is probably the most talked about aspect of his appearance.
Trump then swapped the scissors for a driver ahead of hitting the opening tee shot down the 491-yard, par five opening hole.
Monty, without the benefit of hitting any practice balls, then followed by splitting the fairway and was followed by Jones and the European Tour’s James Finegan, who was filling in for O’Grady.
Also teeing up was Scottish golfer, Martin Laird along with Hamish Gray from the Scottish Golf Union and Jim McArthur, the Championship Director of the R & A.
However the opening went ahead despite the controversy that has long engulfed the £100m project.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust wrote an open letter in a local newspaper to the likes of Monty, Laird and Paul Lawrie, who was not present, urging them not to support the course on the grounds it was built on a ‘unique, protected area’ with ‘nationally important landforms and wildlife’.
The course is laid out on a stretch of 4,000 year-old coastal sand dunes that make up a section of the Foveran Links Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a status that should protect the site from development. Despite fierce protest from environment groups.
But the Scottish Government intervened to give Trump the go ahead for ‘stabilisation’ of the dunes to construct the resort. However since then Trump has fallen with Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmon over the issue of wind farms.
It was hardly surprising, Salmon nor any of his Government ministers were present at the opening.
The environmentalists may still win as Trump has yet to be granted permission to finish the final stage of the project and that is the construction of a permanent clubhouse and residential buildings.