Donald Trump - has he bought the runt of the litter?

Did you love St Patrick's Day?  Did your local celebrations fit in well with the global fuss?  Are we a stronger community moving forward into better weather?  

Isn't it time for a bit of sport?

Certainly when I saw three men sitting at a bar in Cork with the Sunday Business Post on one knee, I couldn't resist overhearing the word "golf".

The guy with brown brogues made a strong point

"I'm telling you Michael, Trump will have to dig the whole place up and start again.  Doonbeg isn't that good.  And what's the point of being really rich and owning a second class links - right next to Lahinch, Ballybunion & Waterville?"

"I don't know Joe - if I was him I'd start with the hotel.  What sort of a hotel would it take to get well-off people to travel down to West Clare?  Now if it was Kerry..."

"Hang on, Donald Trump got Doonbeg for a song.  It says here it cost him only €15m - sure wouldn't some apartments in Manhattan cost way more than that?  I think he got a bargain."

The old man smiled - it looked as if they were his two sons.

"Lads, the money's only the tip of it.  Mark my words, there's a lot more going on behind the scenes.  You read the Sunday Post, didn't Donald Trump's company buy Doonbeg from a company that owed €80m?  God knows the accountants must have had a field week."

I couldn't help noticing one of the sons had stain of egg yoke on his green tie. 

All three were on creamy pints.  All I wanted was a creamy pint of water from the tap - with a dash of lime.

"Dad... should Trump have bought Doonbeg?"  This was a real Kerryman abroad in Cork.  I didn't say we were in the HiB.

The other son looked as if he might be a scratch golfer.

"You know Donald Trump has a golfbag of golf courses?"

I heard him list them off:  Palm Beach,  Dubai, New York, Scotland - I think about 17 in all.

"Why on earth didn't he buy the best Links course in the world - Waterville?"

"Lads, you're Kerry but we're not thick - there're a lot of world-class golf courses beyond the Kingdom."

"Dad, the last time we played Doonbeg didn't  we stay in Moy House?  Doesn't that show what Trump should do with the hotel in Doonbeg?"

The Father swallowed the rest of his pint & nodded at the woman behind the bar.

"What about Greg Norman?  Think about it lads, isn't Greg almost the most loved golfer in the world - especially after what Faldo did to him in the Masters?  Hasn't Greg proved he's a one-off hero of the game - coming back after the world's worse defeat in golf history?

"When Greg Norman designed Doonbeg wasn't he universally admired as course designer - and didn't he spend a huge amount of time in West Clare?"

"You mean isn't Greg Norman, the great white shark is loved and Donald Trump not?"

"Precisely.  The problem for Donald Trump is that Greg Norman is a world-class golf hero - and Trump is about to dig up one of Greg Norman's courses up & almost start again.  How's that going to affect his personal brand?"

"Does Trump give a damn about his personal brand?"

"He'll be 68 in June - this is the phase in every 68-year old man when he thinks of his legacy - his personal brand - what he'll be remembered for.  You can be sure he won't want to be remembered in Ireland for being a wrecker of golf courses.  He either leaves Greg's work alone or produces something so much better that people will love his courage."

"Well, he has balls - I grant you that."

"Do you think a brass neck is the same as courage?  Do you think Donald Trump has the balls to dare transform Doonbeg into a real gem - a destination - a Mecca links?  That, my sons, is the $64,000 question."

"I think he's done it before - destroyed things and rebuilt them in grander style."

"Didn't he do it in business?"

The Father was smiling now...

"Remember when we played Doonbeg at Seanie's wedding?  Wasn't it good?  But was it great? No, it wasn't half as amazing as Waterville, and Lahinch is a finer gem - right?  To become loved by Irish golfers Donald Trump will have to be brave - or else people will remain cynical about his motives.  And his own personal pride's at stake.  He can't outsource that to his sons.  I should know."

The pints were untouched now...
This was serious stuff - and others were listening in too.  I wasn't the only one captured by this issue.  Irish people love their golf and the season's starting now.

The Sons were quiet.

"Donald Trump has a business & a personal brand.  His business brand is on the line all the time - it's as strong as his weakest link.  But his personal brand is vital to him, his kids & his business. His reputation matters - and it's not guaranteed to be great just because he has loads of money. All fathers have to face up to this - hopefully before they hand over to their sons.

"Your personal brand is you - people will judge you - no matter what you do.  The best you can do is strive to be your best - and not simply a rich man who can buy & sell golf courses in Ireland.

"Want to bet what Trump will do next?  He has a real marketing job on his hands - and if his marketing is to be more meaningful than most - he better prove himself a better man - able to grow his business in a more meaningful way than most."

I was riveted.  Those Kerry guys are real cute hoors.
And this was the day before Patrick's Day.  

I wonder where the Trumps spend their St Patrick's Day?  Was it a bit of sport for them?

That was some chat - I wish Donal Trump himself had been with me in the pub.  He'd have had something to think about before he lands in Doonbeg.

Follow me on Twitter & I'll tell you more.

PS A quote for today: 

"Don't worry, you can still make money. That is, as long as it's not the only thing on your mind"

- Thesis No 80 (of 95) from "The CLUETRAIN manifesto - the end of business as usual" [1999]