0 Dark Side of the Greens - a BBC 4 documentary

Trump 3rdGreenYesterday evening, BBC 4 showed a documentary entitled Dark Side of The Greens, in which investigator and documentary journalist Anthony Baxter - he of 'You've Been Trumped' fame - looked at golf developments around the world and how they were affecting the equilibrium of the local ecology ... and residents.

Safe to say, Donald Trump came in for some heavy criticism and once again showed himself to be a somewhat arrogant individual with little regard for anything other than his own ego. In truth, anything that highlights Mr Trump's gung-ho attitude can only be a positive in my opinion, bearing in mind that he is the front runner to be the Republican Presidential Candidate in the 2016 elections. Scary, or what?

Whilst much of the programme was devoted to Mr T, a good portion of it highlighted a proposed new development on the Srdj plateau above Dubrovnik in Croatia. It is an area the city folk have not expanded into because, quite honestly, apart from the local wildlife, little could survive up their. But it is an important source of the city's water supply and does offer spectacular views over the beautiful city and the Adriatic sea beyond.

Ripe for development? Well, money talks, and the developers brought in Greg Norman to design the 27-hole facility, whilst architects put together plans for hotels and villas, the least expensive expected to be c£1.5m.

With the fear of tourism being taken away from the city, plus the threat to their water supply due to the massive amounts the course would require just to keep it alive, the locals organised a petition opposing the plans.

DubrovnicResidents11,000 of the city's 42,000 population signed up and, under Dubrovnik law, a petition that attracts more than 8,500 signatories immediately triggers a local referendum. With much huffing, puffing and denial by the mayor, the referendum took place, with over 85% opposed to the golf development.

Success, you will no doubt be thinking. But wait; only 34% of the total population turned out, so the referendum was declared null and void. Now, given that around 40% were too young to vote, the actual percentage of 'eligible' voters was around 57%.

Our old quotemeister, Mark Twain, who coined "golf is a good walk ruined" also provided "lies, damn lies and statistics", and never has that been more true than in the Dubrovnik golf referendum. Even at 34% though, it was a bigger turnout for those that elected the MEP for the region which, and you may find this hard to believe, was declared legal!

So, armed with the fact that the referendum had been declared null and void by the mayor, the Croatia Government then likewise overruled the result and ordered that the development could proceed.

Enter UNESCO who, given that Dubrovnik is a World Heritage site, put an immediate halt to the development pending further consultation. The developers, and 'The Shark', have walked away, for the time-being, at least.

DonaldTrump on the campaign trailApart from a dip into the UAE and China where, respectively, money has never been, or is likely to be, an object, the documentary returned to Donald Trump, to find him thrusting course designer Martin Hawtree in front of the camera to deflect 'difficult' questions, and finally postponing his plans for a second course at Menie, citing troublesome residents and an 'ugly windfarm' as the main drivers in his decision. He has now taken the Scottish Government to court over their decision to proceed with the windfarm which, incidentally, will provide over 50% of Aberdeen's energy requirements, so watch this space, especially if you are a local farmer or elderly resident!

Instead, his attentions have turned to Ireland where he has purchased the Doonbeg Golf and Hotel complex on the Atlantic coastline of County Clare, restyling it the Trump International Golf Links, Ireland, with the aim of further developing the site. The programme saw him being feted by an Irish Government minister! Same as it ever was.

Our good friends at Golf Business News reckoned this documentary would be "another attack on golf's image" but, in truth, it was more about corporate money buying the ear of a succession of governments. That has been going on since time immemorial, but it is still fundamentally wrong.

Golf and golfers got off lightly this time.

The BBC documenatry is available to view here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06fpzm7/dark-side-of-the-greens

Photo captions:
Top: Trump International, Menie, Scotland
Middle: Dubrovnic residents on the site of the proposed golf course
Bottom: Donald Trump on the Presidential campaign trail - copyright Michael Vadon

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