Nothing, however, could dampen the massive sense of excitement felt by all at the complex with professional Brian Shaw looking to the future with absolute confidence.
“The timing has been just ideal because it has been a tricky couple of years obviously with the economy and everything that was thrown at us but we just kept on fighting”, says Shaw.
“To have Donald Trump and his family now coming in has lifted a massive weight off everybody’s shoulders. There is a massive air of excitement among members and staff, especially staff.
“Our reputation has been built on warmth and great staff and unparalleled service in Ireland. This now gives them a lift, they can walk tall and feel proud again.
“There is a massive pride in West Clare in what Doonbeg has become and the many accolades it has received over the years. Whether you want to call it parochial pride or not, the people of Doonbeg really bought into this. What has happened this week has really cemented Doonbeg into one of the world’s great golf resorts.”
With so much uncertainty surrounding the future of this magnificent complex, with its Greg Norman designed links on land just made for the job and the provision of an ultra-modern and luxurious hotel and clubhouse, Shaw still maintains that in even the darker days, he was still confident that Doonbeg had a big future.
“We felt that there was something of this nature coming down the tracks but to have a name like Donald Trump is an absolute bonus”, he says.
“A lot of us know of his properties in the States, Scotland and around the world. They are top of the bus, really. Everything he does is unrivalled.
“When we heard it was Donald Trump, we knew the investment was going to come, the Blue Monster at Doral is a prime example. After the World Championship last year, he closed the golf course down, brought in top architect Gil Hanse, who has been commissioned to do the course for the Olympics in Brazil, and he basically blew up the original Blue Monster. While I haven’t seen it, I have heard great reports about the course and we will see it in the Cadillac World Championship in a few weeks time.
“This is just an example of the level he goes to and with that mindset, Doonbeg is in for an incredible ride, the start of a new era.”
When I suggested that Doonbeg was unlikely to ever stage an Irish Open, he demurred: “Ballybunion hosted one and I don’t see why we couldn’t do the same. Access is there, there are thousands of beds between Lahinch, Kilkee, Spanish Point and, of course, Ennis so the logistics are there and being a superb links, you are sure of a super field. With a right title sponsor, there would be a lot of synergies with the European Tour.”
Shaw looks back on the official opening when Greg Norman and Pádraig Harrington went head to head and also to the Palmer Cup, a Ryder Cup style bi-annual event between the top students of the US and Europe are involved and in which current leading American pros like Hunter Mahan, Bill Haas and DJ Trahan played.
“And then there was the pleasure of watching the business and the membership grow and the course mature,” he reflects.
“Our superintendent Jim McKenna, who has also been here from the very start and was on the team with Greg that built it, is a genius. He has put a lot of blood and sweat into the grasses of Doonbeg, as everyone has. It’s going to evolve one of the great golf resorts and I can’t see anything stopping us now. The world is our oyster.”