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Sep 27

Coco Beach, Puerto Rico – What’s the Deal?

American President in Center of Golf Bankruptcy Storm over a Trump Course – Now Coco Beach

It confuses me as to why this is so, but with all the troubles brewing in the world, regardless of fault, talking about sports and players of sports seems to be a favorite pastime of the American government. However, when I think about it again, I realize that if the American President can take time to lambast sports behavior, why can’t I?  So, here’s a question. If someone goes off-shore, makes a real estate deal with a major golf course, asks the taxpayers to chip in, do you owe them anything if the deal goes bad? Coco Beach Golf Course in Puerto Rico, or Trump International Golf Club Puerto Rico if you wish, is or was a thing of beauty. True, they weren’t doing well when the Chief Deal-Maker got involved, but under his watch, bankruptcy was declared. To him, it’s pocket change lost. To Puerto Rico, it’s being left holding the bag for 32.7 million, it’s an enormous burden to an already life-and-death situation, the near total destruction of the entire island.

Some suggest that the president is at least partly to blame for the financial conditions, pre-Hurricane Irma. Some say that the whole thing was another Trumpian scam. After signing two deals with the club, one to offer the Trump name, and the other to give Trump control in exchange for a slice of the profits, not much happened. Membership increased only slightly, but fees at the club and resort rose 22%. The Coco Beach product was an attractive golf adventure The two 18-hole courses are dubbed Championship and International, and were designed by former PGA great Tom Kite. They feature stunning views of the ocean, miles of beautiful waterways that create water hazards on all 18 holes, and wonderful lake settings. As of today, I can find no photographic record of what it looks like now, or indeed if it still exists. Golf is certainly not a pleasure that Puerto Ricans can afford to enjoy for the moment.

Trump claims that he has no financial interest of any kind in the club, and that his group just managed the course. Still, he made off with large sums of licensing and management fees – and the second deal gave him “control.” The person with “control” is usually the person responsible for showing good leadership, and sharing in the consequences. It’s one kind of ‘despicable’ to take over real estate from a foreign country and leave them holding the financial bag. It’s another sort of ‘despicable’ to do it to your own. Here, some confusion might be in play. I would like to assume that the president knows that Puerto Rico is a land of hundreds of millions of tax-paying citizens of the United States. Despite offering little electoral gold, it is an American entity. They vote, they pay taxes, etc. However, I cannot assume that. he knows that. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico labors under 132 million in debt, along with the 32.7 million for the golf club.

The great thing about business is that when someone gets hurt, the winner can simply say, “Sorry, nothing personal. It’s just business.” With Christmas coming, Jacob Marley’s words ring loud and clear – “Mankind is our business.” Meanwhile, an American island is still waiting for help we claim is there, but no one can find, even the governor. It’s also easy to say “Everyone knew what they were signing up for” in the Coco Beach deal. “There are winners and losers.” I can’t imagine that the stranded and starving Puerto Ricans knew what they were signing up for, and with whom they were signing up. Can you tax an entire country for a vacation paradise most will never see, without consulting them? Apparently, you can.

I’m off to continue searching for any sign of Coco Beach. I hope it recovers, simply because it’s a beautiful piece of golf design art. Meanwhile, if one is going to “Make America Great Again,” one had better hurry down there and rescue one’s citizens – and while one is there, one might consider making things right with Coco Beach.

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About the author

G.F. Skipworth

has spent every available moment playing golf or studying the greats since the 60s, in between world tours as a classical musician, Harvard studies in Government or as the author of a dozen novels. Nicklaus and Snead may be the statistical greats, but Skipworth is a life-long devotee of Gary Player, and considers meeting the South African at the Jeld-Wen to be an unforgettable milestone. His driving passion in golf these days is to raise viewer interest in the LPGA.