Saturday, April 25, 2009

Donald Trump's Vision For Lowes Island

Come May 1, Lowes Island Golf Club will become Trump National Golf Club Washington D.C.

Last night, Donald Trump, sporting pink shirt and tie, visited the club to speak to an overflow gathering of members, in which he presented his vision and some of his plans for the revitalized club.


It was an upbeat session. Not surprisingly, Mr. Trump is a good salesman. But he'll also be good for the Club.


First off, Trump has a vision for the property, which was previously lacking when it was owned by Chevy Chase Bank. Lowes Island was a nice, family oriented club that just happened to have two terrific golf courses on a spectacular piece of land. But the bank never had any real vision of what the place should be.


Trump does. He wants it to be one of the best golf clubs in the country, and certainly THE best in the DC area. He was quite explicit in stating that he wants Trump National to be superior to Congressional Country Club in Bethesda.


One member asked "what if we don't want to be better than Congressional" to which Trump responded, without hesitation, "then you should leave and find another club." We think that's fair advice to the existing members.


Many rumors have swirled around the club the past few weeks as the Trump purchase began to sink in as reality. Trump debunked most of those last night. Our advice to existing members: wait and see. It may be truly exciting to see what Trump does; he doesn't ever set out to fail.


Here's some specifics. Trump has retained Tom Fazio, designer of the original "Island" course at the club, to redesign it and make it into a Championship course. Trump says Fazio has told him that the land on which the club is situated is suitable for the finest course in the country, and that could be true. It sounds like their plans include incorporating the Potomac River into play, which would certainly be exciting. It will also be a challenge--Trump should've seen the place in the great flood of 1996, when two-thirds of the course was under at least 10 feet of water!


In any event, it is pretty clear that the club is going to go from having a great golf course to a spectacular one.


Trump also plans to build an indoor tennis facility (members currently play in a bubble during the winter). He plans to add a ballroom to the clubhouse, greatly expanding the existing building's footprint in the process, such that it can also have a real grill, a first rate fitness facility and expanded lockers and other amenities.


He is putting a caddy program in place. Some members are grumbling about the cost of playing with caddies, but we think if it's done right, most will see significant benefits. Trump is also pledging to expand the practice facility, which is a real achilles heel of the club now--cramped and inconvenient.


We also give props to Trump for agreeing to keep, and even expand, the childcare program at the club, an unusual feature that had made it one of the most family friendly in the region. That, in turn, has kept the membership young and lively, a nice contrast to all the old folks out at Congressional and many other local clubs.


The cost is going up, but not really by much. In fact, if Trump succeeds in fashioning his vision at Trump National Washington, it could very well be the best bargain in the country. For the members themselves to put the kind of money Trump is talking about into the club would've required a quite hefty assessment.


If you've been to any of Trump's other clubs, you know they all have waterfalls, so expect one at Trump Washington too. The hill between the practice green and the 18th green would make the perfect place for one--it's a hill that for years members have said "we ought to do something nice with that."


Personally, we're excited. If it doesn't work out, then we can always go someplace else.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

The problem is that building a waterfall behind a golf hole is not golf architecture, unless its a novelty course, which many people think characterizes Trump owned properties. And, it thinking like that which keeps the Donald from hosting real golf events, sanctioned by the USGA....too much pizazz with very little in the way of substance.

Hmmm...sounds familiar.

As for family friendly, I'm wondering how many Mom's and Dad's will choose to take the two kids out for some Sunday afternoon golf, when the marginal costs went from zero (after 560 monthly dues, on top of a 75K+ initiation) to over $300 just for the one afternoon, once the mandatory caddy program begins at $75 a person with caddy/tips.

Lets face it, it is simply an attempt to take a nice family club, 45 minutes from downtown DC in non-rush hour, crowded by existing homes on several holes, put the Trump name on it and turn it into a good return on investment.

My guess is he'll miss the existing members who are leaving in droves, as the new ones fail to show up.

Anonymous said...

As a member who's been paying attention, I must refute some lies. The members are not exactly "leaving in droves" - some may be, but they aren't rushing and the dozens I've spoken to are excited about the forecast changes, at least not yet; not more than two holes (of 36) are "crowded" by homes - we can see homes on a few other holes, but they aren't in play; the caddy fee is $25 or $50 per person and parents w/kids may be exempted, esp. in the afternoons.

X Curmudgeon said...

We were particularly perplexed by that "crowded by existing homes" comment as well.

Anonymous said...

Some facts, from what I have heard, the caddys are mandatory, as Trump said, from 7am to 3pm every day (and imagine how hard its going to be to get a ttime after 3pm). The caddy fees are 50 per person plus a suggested 25 tip per person...and that applies to everyone of every age, at least so far. So, the cost of that friendly foursome 3 days a week for the husband and wife separately, plus two days with the wife together, went from 0 marginal to an extra 750 per week or 3000 per month extra....on top of 560 monthly dues and a 60K initiation (last I heard).

Now, just yesterday, they sent a eletter to all members saying there was no longer a bag drop but you have to use a "valet" drop, so more tips as you come and go.

My guess, in the name of golf glory, Trump will now reorder the routing and claim an architectual design improvement.

Fees like this for a Cypress Point or Pine Valley might be tolerable for me. But Trump DC is simply a bought/renamed Lowes Island. My guess is that the generally more educated Washington golfers won't pay the extra for the "glitz and ditz" of a Trump naming.

So far, out of about 17 members I've talked to or seen emails from, 11 said they were seriously considering leaving....big percentage.

Don't know about a crowding of homes, though there are numerous townhomes very close to nine, ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen of the Fazio Course and soon to be way too close to the 18th fairway of the Hills course. Too numerous for an "exclusive" course in my view.

Anonymous said...

"Old foks at Congressional" WTF? As a member of Congressional CC, I can tell you that we've batted around the day-care idea for years and if it worked, belive me, we'd have done it.

As for Lowes Island becoming "superior to Congressional" all I can say is look at the history. Multiple US Opens, 1976 PGA, Kemper Opens, etc, etc. I'm sure Mr. Trump will bring some nice upgrades and additions along with his New York attitude.

But as one other person said, "the generally more educated Washington golfers" really don't need it.

Congo has Tiger until 2014, with an option for 3 more years until 2017, and we're absolutely thrilled to host this event for all Washingtonians to come see and enjoy!

Congratulations on your recent purchase, Mr. Trump and best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

there are a couple of environemtnal issues that nobody is mentioning out loud either...he seems to skirt around them, or just run right over them

Anonymous said...

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