In a blatant move against growing the game of golf, New York City recently opened the Trump Golf Links Ferry Point for play, not ironically on April 1.
With the debut, Trump and the city pulled a hell of a joke on the taxpayers and Average Joe and Jo golfers of NYC.
Ferry Point is a testament to why golf participation is declining.
According to the facility’s website, weekday green fees are $141 (resident) or $190 (non-resident) plus tax. On weekends it is $169 and $215. Golfers pay a mandatory practice fee of $15 (resident) and $25 (non-resident) even if they don’t practice.
As Juan Gonzalez detailed in his New York Daily News column, Trump is charging far more than he said he would, which was $100 for residents on weekdays and $125 on weekends.
Trump raised prices even more for juniors and seniors. It’s now $104 for juniors (under 16) on weekdays and $137 for seniors. The original fees, according to Gonzalez, were $35 for juniors and $55 for seniors.
Already there’s talk of Ferry Point hosting a major. It would be an egregious error for the United States Golf Association or the PGA of America to sanction this kind of municipal course business model by bestowing a tournament there.
Turning Ferry Point into a golf course had been in the works for nearly 30 years. All told, the city has spent about $269 million in tax dollars trying to make something out of the former dump. According to the New York Post, Trump agreed to spend $10 million for the construction of a 12,000-square-foot clubhouse.
There is nothing about Trump’s latest monument to himself, a Jack Nicklaus design, that’s good for golf. In fact, it’s a slap in the face to the kind of facilities the country needs for golf participation to grow.
A mere 6 miles directly north of Ferry Point are the 36 holes of the Pelham Bay and Split Rock golf courses, also municipally owned, and part of New York’s largest park.
At that facility, rates for residents and the public are nearly the same. On weekdays before noon it’s $40, $31 after that. On weekends, players fork over $48 and $40. Carts are $18.50 per rider.
Split Rock is a wonderful, fun design by John Van Kleek. It’s worth searching out and playing. I’ve heard the same of Pelham.
For the exact amount of money Trump will spend on the Ferry Point clubhouse, Pelham and Split Rock could have been upgraded to the point that the facility ranked among the best 36-hole municipal golf complexes in the country, while remaining – and this is important – AFFORDABLE!
Meanwhile, as recently as a month before the course opened, Trump was finagling more money for himself.
A Parks Department spokesperson told Gonzalez the agency “approved some ‘minor amendments’ in March to the original rates – including the bundling of services, a separate adjustment for inflation and a $4 ‘supplemental fee’ for Trump for improvements not specified in the original contract.”
Trump also has the city paying Ferry Point’s water bill, which could approach $300,000 annually.
The New York Post ran a fawning piece two days before Ferry Point welcomed the Great Washed Few.
“There’s never been anything like this ever built in the history of golf,” Trump said, as if that were a compliment.
Nicklaus said one of the appeals of the job was “it will be a public golf course.”
What’s appealing about an unaffordable public golf course? Oh right, the seven-figure design fee.
“They can have people taking buses from Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue,” Trump told the Post.
Nobody from those ultra-wealthy locals is taking multiple buses to Ferry Point, a helicopter maybe. Trump doesn’t envision anyone taking buses to Ferry Point and then paying $140 or more to play.
In a Post story the day after the course opened, New York resident Theron Irish questioned Ferry Point’s business model.
“Who, playing public golf, is going to pay $230 for a round? Maybe Wall Street guys. Some people don’t make that kind of money in two or three days of work,” Irish said.
In reality, Ferry Point is not a golf course for the general public. It was built precisely for Wall Street guys, the same guys who golf Trump’s courses in Scotland and Florida.
In the Post, Michael Breed, who runs the teaching academy at Ferry Point, had the audacity to call Ferry Point “a gift to New York golf.”
He probably meant to say “elite New York golf.”
What a joke.