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'Artist' Trump has Scottish sand dunes for his canvas

By Paul Gittings, CNN
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Trump expects 'Greatest golf course'
  • Donald Trump tells CNN his plans to build golf course in Scotland are on track
  • Construction has started in $1 billion project on Aberdeenshire coast
  • The 64-year-old says the sand dunes offer the perfect landscape to build a course
  • Billionaire American businessman shrugs off local opposition to his plans

London, England (CNN) -- Donald Trump has moved a step nearer to his dream of building the "world's greatest" golf course, as construction work has begun on the land he owns in Scotland.

It has taken the billionaire American tycoon four long years since he first put forward his plans to see the first visible signs of progress, and he told CNN's Living Golf that his enthusiasm for the project is undiminished.

Trump is convinced that the location, four miles of protected sand dunes along the Aberdeenshire coast, offer him the natural landscape to build something "very special."

"I am an artist and this is probably the greatest piece of canvas that anybody has ever worked on in terms of the world of golf," the 64-year-old said.

"We're looking to make it the greatest golf course anywhere in the world and it should be.

I am an artist and this is probably the greatest piece of canvas that anybody has ever worked on in terms of the world of golf
--Donald Trump
  • Donald Trump
  • Scotland
  • Aberdeenshire
  • Golf

"It should be based on the land, it was formed by God. I mean, this is a truly amazing system, you just look down and see the holes, you don't even have to do too much work.

"It's going to be something very, very special and people are going to enjoy it for many years to come."

Exactly how many people play his course, stay at the accompanying hotel and let the planned 950 holiday apartments will ultimately decide the commercial viability of the project.

Trump also has outline planning permission for 500 residential homes for a project which started with a $1 billion price but he now says has come down to $750 million because of the comparative strength of the dollar.

"I'm building something in crazy times but I have done that before -- you build in bad times and open it up in good times. So, let's see what happens," he said.

Construction work on the championship course is due to be completed by 2012, but a possible stumbling block to the wider project is the opposition of a local campaigners.

They have brought a one-acre plot of land belonging to an objector, Michael Forbes, in an attempt to disrupt Trump's plans.

Bullish Trump presses ahead with golf course project

Having dealt with controversy all his business life, Trump is practiced at brushing off problems and believes all publicity is good publicity.

"You can say what you want about controversy, but it does bring people. So I think the answer is yes, but the good news is I'm rich, so it doesn't matter.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic boon to Aberdeen, it's going to be a fantastic boon to Scotland. And by the way, people will come here to play my course but they will also play other courses, so I think it's a fantastic thing for the tourism of Scotland."

Trump clearly has a soft spot for Scotland -- his mother was born in Stornaway -- and admitted that, to a degree, his heart had ruled his head on the ambitious project because of the site's potential.

"I am very much interested in having number one, I don't buy something or build something that can't be the best or among the best. But this is something that can be really be beyond all else," he said.

Once it opens, expect a steady stream of celebrities to tee it up. Trump mentions 007 Sean Connery, a proud Scot, as a big backer and said he had received a letter of support from Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

"I really appreciated that he just came out of nowhere and said that this is something that has to be done and this is great," Trump said.

"And I wrote him a note and thanked him very much. I didn't ask him for support, he just supported it."

Typically, Trump is hoping his championship course will join the likes of St. Andrews and one day host the British Open.

"What we are doing really is building something while we have the opportunity to build it, and I think it will be legendary for many years to come."

Time will tell, but if confidence is the key, Tiger Woods and his rivals will be battling it out on his sand-dune links before too long.