- David A. Fahrenthold The Washington Post
President Donald Trump's golf course in Ireland lost about $2.3 million in 2016, according to new documents filed with the Irish government — the latest in a series of Trump golf clubs that have recently reported losses or declining revenue.
The Irish course, called Trump International Golf Links Ireland, is located in Doonbeg on the island's west coast. It was bought by the Trump Organization in 2014, and then renovated — requiring more than $32 million in spending so far by the president's company — before fully reopening in May 2016.
The new figures for 2016, provided Tuesday by the Trump club, show some good news for the course. Its revenue increased by 30 percent in 2016. Its operating losses were only half what they'd been in 2015.
But the bottom line was that the course lost money, for a third year in a row. Its total losses of $2.3 million were only about 15 percent lower than they'd been in 2015, while the course was hamstrung all year by renovations.
In the club's annual filing to Irish regulators, the Trump Organization did not offer an explanation for the club's continued losses, saying instead that it was "confident (of) the return of operating profits in 2017."
Eric Trump, the president's son who is now helping to run his businesses, did not respond to a request for comment from the Washington Post.
Eric Trump told the Irish Times, which first reported the Doonbeg club's losses, that "it is incredibly gratifying to see our vision for Trump Doonbeg come to life. I continue to be impressed by the beautiful product and the business improvement at the property."
The club's general manager told the Irish Times that he also expected the club to lose money overall in 2017. The official figures for 2017 will likely not be filed with the Irish government until late 2018.
So far, it appears that Trump's divisive presidency has pulled his businesses - which the president still owns — in opposite directions.
At Trump businesses that can sell the glamour of the presidency itself, or a hope of access to the president or his circle, business has surged. Trump's hotel in Washington, D.C., for instance, has reported unexpected profits. His Mar-a-Lago Club has raised membership fees and raised the ticket price for a New Year's Eve party that the president attended.
But at other businesses — located in more liberal areas, offering no access to the president himself — the Trump presidency seems to be hurting, not helping, his businesses.
Trump's 16 golf courses, for instance, are mostly spread out in blue coastal areas of the United States, or in European countries where he is unpopular.
Many of these courses are private and release few details about their financial situations. But in recent months, government data has already provided snapshots of struggles at four other such courses.
In Scotland, for instance, Trump's golf courses at Aberdeen and Turnberry reported to the British government that their losses had doubled in 2016, to more than $24 million combined. Trump significantly increased the amount of money he'd loaned those clubs, to more than $200 million, according to those government filings.
In California, Trump's golf course outside Los Angeles has reported unusually low revenue from greens fees and cart rentals: At last count, the totals for 2017 were the lowest since at least 2011.
And in the Bronx, Trump's new course at Ferry Point also reported declining revenue. This year, the club's revenue from the busy summer season — from April to September — was down 14 percent from its first summer in 2015, according to city figures.
In Ireland, Trump's club includes an 18-hole golf course and a hotel, catering to both Irish golfers and international visitors. Condé Nast Traveler magazine's readers this year rated it the 18th best resort in all of Europe.
Late last month, the club won a preliminary victory in a long-running battle to build a kind of rock sea wall to stop coastal erosion, made worse by climate change. An earlier plan to build a bigger sea wall was scaled back after local opposition, in a saga that Trump said soured him on the European Union (although the EU had very little to do with it).
Trump is not popular in Ireland — in a recent opinion poll, the online publication the Journal found that just 21 percent of Irish people supported a state visit by Trump to their country.
But, in at least one case, Trump's politics brought his Irish club some new customers.
The National Party, a small right-wing Irish political party, began holding its events at the Trump club just before last year's U.S. election. The party returned to the club this year, holding its annual convention there in November.
The National supports banning abortion, restricting immigration to Ireland and is critical of the EU, of which Ireland is a member.
"There's certainly a huge amount of common ground with Trump the candidate. And the party membership was very supportive of Trump the candidate," said Justin Barrett, the party's leader.
Still, Barrett said, "We're cautious of Trump the president. There's certain things he hadn't delivered yet." For one thing, Barrett said they were disappointed in the slow progress toward construction of Trump's promised border wall.View full experience