Trump joy at 'greatest' course
US tycoon Donald Trump says the battle to open his multi-million pound golf resort in Scotland has been completely worth it.
The businessman has clashed with local residents, environmentalists, wind farm manufacturers and the Scottish First Minister since buying the land on the Menie estate in Aberdeenshire seven years ago.
Plans for a hotel and houses on the estate have been put on hold until a decision is made on a proposed windfarm off the coast of Trump International Golf Links.
Mr Trump was piped to the first hole of the course and cut a red ribbon before teeing off with former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.
After completing the first nine holes with George O'Grady and Sandy Jones, the chief executives of the European Tour and the UK PGA respectively, Mr Trump called it the "greatest golf course anywhere in the world".
"We're having a great time, the course is playing great and the weather has held up," he said.
"Colin loves the course and he's playing really well, he's a great player and a great guy."
Mr Trump said he remains confident that the offshore windfarm proposal in the North Sea will be rejected and plans to expand the resort will continue.
He said: "As soon as we find out that they are not going to destroy Scotland by building windmills all over the place we will start immediately on the hotel. We're all set with it.
"I don't think the windfarm will happen because it will be the destruction of Aberdeen and the destruction of Scotland ultimately.
"People are seeing that all over the world windfarms are being abandoned, so I can't imagine that they will put up these ridiculous monsters that don't make economic sense and destroy the environment."
Environmental campaigners opposed the construction of the course as the area includes sand dunes that are of scientific interest.
Some groups called on professional players to boycott the holes that play over the dunes.
Donald Trump junior has overseen the building of the site and shrugged off the threat of a boycott.
He said: "They have nothing else at this point.
"We have been the most environmentally-scrutinised project in all of Europe, if not the world, and we passed all of those things with flying colours.
"They are grasping at straws trying to make a story for themselves because they have nothing else, it's that simple."
Mr Trump junior also said said it "wasn't a big deal" that the First Minister or representatives from the Scottish Government were not invited to the opening.
"We had a good relationship initially and we were made a lot of promises and those were broken," he said.
"We are pretty good about being loyal but not when they throw it back in our face."
His father declined to comment when asked if Alex Salmond had been sent an invite to the course.
When giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Economy, Energy and Tourism committee in April, Mr Trump said he was "misled" by Mr Salmond at a New York dinner in 2007 that the windfarm would not go ahead.
The First Minister denied any assurances were given and called the claims "total nonsense".
The course, which is almost three miles long, will open to the public on Sunday.
Mr Trump said: "It's been worth it because we've created something iconic, as Sandy Jones from the PGA said. This is truly the greatest golf course anywhere in the world.
"Everybody knows it, lots of people are saying it, and most importantly golf people are saying it, so we are really honoured by the way it has turned out.
"It's the whole structure that makes it special - the dunes, being on the North Sea - the architect has done an amazing job.
"It's a special place, Scotland is a special place. I think this is great for golf, and what's great for golf is good for Scotland because Scotland is the home front for the game."
Mr Jones and Mr O'Grady agreed that the course is "great" and said that they will work to bring major professional events to it.
The chief executive of the European Tour said: "Great courses should have great tournaments and we, the European Tour, together with Mr Trump, will work to bring the right event to Trump International Links."
Mr Jones added: "I love this place, I came 18 months ago and said to myself 'God actually made a golf course here', I thought the architects could only mess it up but they have polished the landscape magnificently.
"I know there have been objectors but to those who think the golf course shouldn't be here I would say 'golf is a responsible business, golf has an integrity and honesty at the core of the game and we are honest people and embrace our environment, and I wish the environmentalists would embrace golf because it would make a difference to all of us'."
Montgomerie said the course was a "marvel" and was honoured to be part of the opening party.
He added: "The course is playing great and the best part is how quick we have been able to get round. I love this guy (Mr Trump) to play with, he doesn't hang around.
"I will be able to go back to the rest of the professionals playing in the Scottish Open tomorrow and tell them how wonderful this course is.
"On behalf of the European Tour I do hope this is the start of something very large here and I do hope we have many tournaments here in the future."
To coincide with the course opening, a documentary film by environmental campaigners called You've Been Trumped was released in selected cinemas at the weekend.
It was made by the action group Tripping Up Trump and is described by its makers as a "blistering big-screen account of the destruction of one of Britain's last remaining wilderness areas".
It is being shown in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, and will have screenings in New York and Los Angeles next month.
Dave Morris, director of Ramblers Scotland, said the course should not have been built on the natural landscape on the north-east coast and he is calling on the Scottish Government to protect such areas.
He added: "Our coastline needs protecting from every Tom, Dick and Donald who wants to make a quick buck.
"Environmental protection and public enjoyment are more important than hotels, houses and fairways along most sections of the course and can bring huge economic benefits to local communities."