President Trump’s newest U.S. golf club — a luxury-priced course in New York that opened in 2015 — reported a 12 percent decrease in revenue over the past 12 months, as its banquet business sagged and golfers played fewer rounds.
That drop in business at the Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx was revealed in documents that the Trump Organization filed with the city of New York. The city owns the course, built on an old garbage dump, but Trump’s business has a 20-year contract to operate it and will pocket nearly all of its revenue.
The documents on the course were obtained through a public-records request by NYC Park Advocates. The nonprofit group then provided them to The Washington Post.
The records provide an unusual glimpse inside a business unit of the Trump Organization, during the period when Trump was seeking, then winning and then assuming the presidency. Nearly all of Trump’s other business interests are privately held and offer little transparency regarding their revenue and profits.
The reports show that, in the period between April 2016 and March 2017, golfers played 26,127 rounds at the Bronx course. That was a decline of 2,164 rounds — or about 7 percent — from the previous 12-month period.
And with fewer golfers playing, the business had reductions in several kinds of revenue: total greens fees fell 12 percent. The snack bar had a 26 percent decline. At the same time, the banquet business fell off sharply — revenue decreased from $837,000 to $444,000, or 47 percent.
In all, gross receipts at the Trump course dropped from $8.1 million in its first 12 months to $7 million in its second.
Trump has said he has relinquished management of his companies, including this course. But he still owns them, and he has put the businesses in a “trust” that allows him to withdraw money from them at any time.
From the records alone, it is impossible to tell whether politics played a role in the business decline at the Trump course. In the 2016 election, Trump lost the neighborhood around the course by 53 points, and New York City as a whole by 60.
The Trump Organization did not respond to questions from The Post about the decrease. City parks officials also did not respond.
One expert on the golf industry said that a revenue decline of 12 percent should be “nothing alarming” for a course such as this one. Tom Stine, whose Florida-based Golf Datatech does market research on the golf business, said that something as simple as rainy weather could cause a drop in demand.
“Public courses are more affected by fluctuations in weather than private courses are,” Stine said, because private courses have members who still pay their dues, even if it’s too wet to play golf.
But Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said he thinks the Trump course’s troubles go beyond weather.
“It’d be hard to imagine, with all the controversy associated with the Trump name, that it’s not impacting the fortunes of this course,” Croft said.
The Bronx course was built by the city, with taxpayers spending $127 million to construct it on the site of a decades-old garbage dump. Under the contract’s terms, Trump’s company can keep every dollar spent at the course until 2019 — and the city also agreed to pay water and sewer costs, saving the company about $1 million a year.
After 2019, Trump’s company will pay the city a small but growing share of annual revenue. The Trump Organization also agreed to build a $10 million clubhouse at the course within its first five years of play.
Trump took an early victory lap when the course staged its grand opening in 2015, landing his Trump-embossed helicopter on the greens. Trump and his daughter Ivanka teed off for a ceremonial first swing on the course, whose 12th hole is crowned with a plaque celebrating its first hole-in-one — shot, it said, by “Donald J. Trump.”
The Jack Nicklaus-designed course was an odd addition to New York’s poorest borough, where golfers can see several public-housing complexes on the horizon. Yet Trump planners promoted the links as a capital of luxury, with $36-per-rider GPS-equipped golf carts and rates that made it New York’s most expensive public course.
Trump executives said the premium cost is worth it because other Trump golf clubs nationwide cost tens of thousands of dollars to join. Ron Lieberman, a Trump company executive and former city parks director of revenue, told news crews in 2015, “It is not an exclusive country club. It is an open, public golf course to New York City golfers.” He added: “They’re going to get a great bargain, but they’re going to still get the country-club experience.”