They showed that, in the three years after Trump bought the iconic Scottish golf club, Turnberry was a sinkhole for cash. In all, Trump has spent at least $212 million on the property — $67 million to buy it and an additional $144 million to renovate it and sustain its ongoing losses.
Trump still owns his businesses, although he has given over day-to-day management to his eldest sons.
The figures from Turnberry were another sign that Trump’s businesses have suffered during his presidency — as his rise as a polarizing political figure has alienated the rich, urban customers whom his hotels and golf courses seek to attract.
Trump’s company has already lost hotels in Panama, Toronto and New York’s SoHo neighborhood, as the building owners cut ties with his brand. In New York and Chicago, Trump’s expensive hotels have also seen a decline in business since 2015, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post.
At least some parts of Trump’s golf empire have struggled during the same period: Public data has shown downturns at his courses in California and New York City, and ongoing losses at his club in Ireland and both of his courses in Scotland.
Of Trump’s Scottish courses, Turnberry is the jewel: a landmark seaside course with a large hotel, which hosted the British Open four times. When Trump bought it in 2014, Trump hoped the competition would return, and allow him to host one of golf’s premier events. So far, it hasn’t.
Trump spent millions on the property, renovating both its golf courses. By early 2017, both had reopened, and the club’s general manager predicted to the Guardian newspaper that it would finally turn a profit.
“We’ll make a profit this year — it will be the first time we have made a good profit in the 14 years I have worked here,” Turnberry’s general manager Ralph Porciani said in January 2017, according to the Guardian article.
That didn’t happen. The new filings show that revenue nearly doubled in 2017. But it still wasn’t enough to cover the club’s rising costs.
In the filings, the Trump Organization did not offer any explanation for the losses.
In a recent interview with the British newspaper Express, Porciani said that this year would be the real test of the club.
“2018 is really our baseline year to start making Turnberry a sustainable business,” Porciani said, according to Express.
Trump bought both Turnberry and his other Scottish course — near Aberdeen — without taking out mortgage loans, an unusual move in an industry where few large properties are bought with all-cash.
In the same period, from 2006 to 2014, Trump also purchased 12 other properties in the same way, without mortgages — a remarkable spending spree that defied his own self-proclaimed status as “the king of debt.” His son Eric Trump, who now helps run the Trump Organization, has said the company used cash simply because it had so much of it, from the revenue of its hotels, commercial buildings and other golf clubs.
Trump’s other Scottish course has not yet posted its 2017 revenue figures, according to the British government.