Donald Trump shifts his attention to Ireland after losing Scottish wind-farm legal battle

February 20, 2014

This week the resilient Donald Trump bounces back from losing his battle against off-shore wind farms which he claimed were wrecking his plans for a super resort and golf complex in Aberdeenshire.  It seems that Scotland’s loss is to be Ireland’s gain

Donald Trump has bought a five star golf resort on the west coast of Ireland after losing a legal action against a windfarm being built near his golf resort in Aberdeenshire in Scotland.

The billionaire property developer said that while he appealed against the court defeat in Scotland he would be diverting his energies to the exclusive Doonbeg golf and hotel complex on the Atlantic coastline of County Clare, restyling it the Trump International Golf Links, Ireland.

Trump had taken the Scottish government to court over a decision to approve a major experimental windfarm in Aberdeen Bay, which will be about two miles south east of his planned £750m golf resort, because it spoiled the view.

Trump’s tale

We have been followed the leadership style and actions of Mr Trump in LWD for some years.

His interest in building a world class golf facility in Scotland was dogged in legal controversies from the start. Initially, the legal objections came from environmentalists and local residents. Later, it was Mr Trump who sought legal rights to protect his interests.

Leadership style

The Trump style of leadership seemed blunt rather than devious or Machiavellian. This places him at some disadvantage over pressure groups whose leaders have long experience of challenging the powerful and drawing attention to their cause.  Maybe Donald trump will now learn from his experiences. Otherwise there will be one more extended story as the local bhoys prepare to deal with the latest foreign threat to their culture and coast line.


Muirfield should keep its men-only club rules and live in its self-elected bubble

July 18, 2013

How to defend two differing sets of human rights? There are ways, including setting up the sort of Apartheid-type approaches which eventually were overcome in South Africa

Much has been written about the men-only rules of the Muirfield Golf Club, as it hosts the 2013 Open Championship [July 2013]. Many members of the golfing fraternity disapprove of discrimination in all its forms, and have spoken up against Muirfield’s ‘weird’ rules (as one golfer put it).

South Africa, many years ago, had its own political rules about association between people of different races. It took decades of dissent to overturn the rules. Pressure on the Muirfield club will eventually probably result in a change of its rules, as took place recently at Atlanta.

There is another way. Muirfield has every right to stick to its rules, however weird they seem to others outside the club. Those who feel strongly about it, should ensure that the rules are protected from being weakened by forces from outside. For example, golfers who might dispute the rules could decide they would prefer not to play in competitions at the club. Broadcasters (encouraged by subscribers and sponsors) could decide they did not want to broadcast events held at the club. Spectators could decide not to spectate. And so on.

This would help Muirfield to preserve its rights of association of its male membership, and there would be one more major golf competition awarded to clubs with a set of rules more acceptable to other people, including women, living in the 21st century.

Golf, prejudice, and a small step towards the 21st century

August 23, 2012

News of the week. Augusta golf club admits Condoleezza Rice to membership. The move may be less about more enlightened attitudes, than about pressure for golf to become more inclusive in order to fulfil the ideals of a sport now included in a future Olympic Games

A few years ago, I was astonished to learn from close friends that golf clubs in England and Scotland were effectively barring women, people of colour, and of non-Christian beliefs and various other minorities from membership. For example, the distinguished President of a Ladies section of a Belgian club told me how she had offered hospitality to an English guest at her club. When he subsequently invited her to return her courtesies, he was forced to operate within ‘get round’ rules which made her an ‘honorary male’ of club to which he belonged.

What about Ginni Rometti?

Returning to the Auugusta story, The Australian suggested that the admission was the consequence of the tradition in the club of offering membership to the CEO of IBM, one of its main sponsors of the Masters event held at Augusta each year. This presented a problem when IBM recently appointed its first female CEO, Ginni Rometti.

A dilemma of tradition

It is tempting to speculate that within the club a strategy emerged, perhaps designed to placate IBM and the growing pressures being exerted on the institution from several libertarian pressure movements. Why not appoint a major female figure with sound political credentials and who is also black? And we can head off the IBM issue by inviting a local business woman, Darla Moore.

This glass ceiling is now expected to be smashed in the autumn, by the sight of Ms Rice and Ms Moore wielding their drivers. If Augusta National can move into the 21st century, then what about the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in Scotland? Formed in 1754, the world’s most prestigious club has yet to open its doors to women. It has about 2400 members and is showing no sign of changing its all-male policy.

Then there are the Olympics

Another pressure point may be coming from the Olympics committee which has accepted Golf as a sport for the 2016 Games in Rio. [I have not been able to find any specific reference to back up this idea, and welcome comments from LWD subscribers: Ed].

Why bother to join such clubs?

Private clubs have to right to exclude anyone they choose. Groucho Marx famously and ironically noted, that he wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would let him in. It reminds me of a twist to another favourite saying of mine that golf clubs get the members they deserve and the power they can preserve.

Donald Trump’s Love-affair with Scottish Golf Courses takes a blow

April 24, 2012

Donald Trump American entrepreneur, TV reality show star, and wannabe Presidential candidate is a golf enthusiast who has invested heavily in the leisure industry of Scotland. But he appears to be having a tiff with Scottish politicians

Mr Trump claims that Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond had reassured him that proposals to build an off-shore wind farm close to his championship golf course would never win political approval.

The betrayal

But yesterday, [April 23rd 2012] according to the Scotsman:

Mr Trump said: “I feel totally betrayed and lied to by the Scottish Government. I was really misled and mistreated.”
The tycoon made it clear that, should the wind farm get the go-ahead, then the Menie [Aberdeenshire] development would end once the course is opened and construction on the planned clubhouse is completed. It will be a golf course and it will be a beautiful clubhouse and that will be it. That’s not what I want. We have a concept for a hotel which will blow everyone’s minds but I can’t have a hotel looking into those windmills.”

Another account of the turbulent meeting can be found in the Guardian.

Leaders we deserve have followed the Scottish business activities of Mr Trump for several years. His business style seems to have contributed to problems in implementing some of his cherished visions.

In 2010 we reported The Independent as saying:

The billionaire Donald Trump last week clashed with protesters opposed to his controversial plans to build the “world’s greatest golf course” near Aberdeen. Quarry worker Michael Forbes, who is refusing to sell his property which adjoins the £750m scheme, claims Mr Trump’s workers unlawfully annexed his land. The clash is the latest skirmish in an increasingly bitter battle to prevent Mr Trump from developing the site. More than 7,000 local people have signed up to join the “bunker”, co-owners of an acre of land sold by Mr Forbes [a local land-owner] to disrupt the US tycoon’s plans. The philanthropist and co-founder of the Body Shop (Gordon Roddick) and Green MP Caroline Lucas are the latest to join the campaign.

Wind Farms OK, Donald Trump not OK?

It will be interesting to see whether Mr Trump is succeeding in his dilemma of winning over regional opposition to his business interests while achieving his business goals.


Image from Ecohooks website and the pithily titled post: Donald Trump Pissed about Offshore Wind Farms

Bookie Fred Done has paid out on bets on Manchester United to win the Premier League title. Why?

April 4, 2012

Bookmakers are not known for their charitable gestures. So it’s worth thinking why Betfair owner Fred Done decided to pay out £500,000 to punters who backed Manchester United to win the Premier League again this year, when there were still seven games to be played


Within one game to play, Manchester City were installed as firm favourites…the following suggests an explanation for Fred’s actions.

Original Post

Manchester United fan Fred Done paid up a similar sum in 1998 when United was leading Arsenal by 12 points. The Gunners went on to win the title.

Fred, a long-time United supporter may had been rewarding other faithful fans for backing their team.

On the other hand

Bookies, like scientists, don’t believe in absolute certainties. But they tend to be good at creating marketing opportunities. Fred has converted a near-certain loss of money (which has already been hedged) to a headline in the sports pages drawing attention to his business.

Creative marketing?

It’s why Paddy Power, another book-maker, is offering to refund all bets on other golfers, if Tiger Woods wins the Masters in Augusta, this weekend [April 2012].

You might call both actions creative marketing.

Golf, Business and The Environment

August 17, 2010

Tudor Rickards, Susan Moger, and Leigh Wharton

Golf means big business. Around the world, from Dubai to Scotland to Singapore there is great competition to hold top tournaments as part of a regional development leisure strategy. But new golf courses also pose environmental challenges calling for innovative solutions.

In Scotland, the ancient home of golf, an initiative by Donald Trump met with protests for several years, although his proposals always promised to bring much-needed employment to a region in Aberdeenshire facing a decline in its fishing and North Sea Oil business. A BBC report noted:

Aedan Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland, [Royal Society for Protection of Birds] commented
“RSPB Scotland is surprised and extremely disappointed at this decision, which we believe is wrong both for Aberdeenshire and for Scotland. The development will cause the destruction of a dune system, with its precious wildlife, on a site which is protected by law and should continue to be available for future generations to enjoy.”

Trump lands in a bunker

Two years later [August 2010] the plans were still being contested bitterly. The Independent reported:

The billionaire Donald Trump last week clashed with protesters opposed to his controversial plans to build the “world’s greatest golf course” near Aberdeen. Quarry worker Michael Forbes, who is refusing to sell his property which adjoins the £750m scheme, claims Mr Trump’s workers unlawfully annexed his land. The clash is the latest skirmish in an increasingly bitter battle to prevent Mr Trump from developing the site. More than 7,000 local people have signed up to join the “bunker”, co-owners of an acre of land sold by Mr Forbes [a local land-owner] to disrupt the US tycoon’s plans. The philanthropist and co-founder of the Body Shop (Gordon Roddick) and Green MP Caroline Lucas are the latest to join the campaign.

Meanwhile at The Mull of Kintyre..

Meanwhile, in an equally beautiful part of Scotland, another venture was claiming to support economic regeneration. A multi-million pound luxury golf resort is set to boost a wider regeneration of Argyll and Bute, one of the most beautiful but poorest parts of the Scottish Highlands. The Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club is near the southern end of the Mull of Kintyre, made famous in a song by Sir Paul McCartney, the former Beatle who has a farmhouse on the peninsula. The course, which opened last year, lies beside the old Machrihanish Golf Club, which was built in the 1870s and regularly features as one of the world’s top-100 venues. Massachusetts-based Southworth Developments, the private company owned by David Southworth, a US property developer, took a controlling stake at the time. To date [Aug 2010] opposition seems far less than was received by the Trump project.

Golf and Environmental Responsibility

Recent visits to Dubai and Singapore have revealed similar recognition of the potential for golf to support plans for economic development. But the environmental debates do not go away. Letters in The Straits Times for example discussed the demands placed on precious water supplies. owever, the leisure industry has become sophisticated in acknowledging its environmental responsibilities. Singapore hosted an international conference in 2008

In his opening remarks, Col (Ret) Peter Teo, general manager of Singapore Golf Association, supported the need for courses to be environmentally and socially responsible. He suggested that Singapore could take the lead in golf excellence. Such a positioning, which would require multi-shareholder involvement by the clubs, government agencies, NGOs and the private sector, would show that Singapore cares deeply about nature conservation and that every stakeholder can participate.

Business, Leisure and the Environment

Business, leisure, and the environmental considerations have become intimately mixed. Students of leadership may find it instructive to consider what principles of leadership help in the evaluation of such global issues.

Keep Religion Out of Sport

June 8, 2010

It is argued that politics should have no part in sport. The same has been said about religion. But are such polarisations possible?

The connection between religion and sport was raised in articles following a golfing win by the deeply religious Stewart Cink [in July 2009]. The story began as Cink battled with fellow- American Tom Watson to win his first Open Championship at Turnberry, Scotland, in 2009. A win for the 59-year-old Watson would have been a wonderful human interest story. The BBC reported the outcome:

Cink won the play-off by six shots to deny 59-year-old Watson the chance of a fairytale sixth Open win. Watson had ended level with Cink on two under after he missed a putt for the title on the 18th.

Writing in the Daily Mirror, Journalist Kevin Mitchell captured some of the media frustration noting:

Spare a thought for Stewart Cink. He is the Open champion nobody wanted … It is hard to recall a winner who more completely spoilt the party in a major sporting event than Cink did when he beat Tom Watson in the play-off. Should we feel sorry for him, this redeemed battler who pick-pocketed the biggest prize in golf from Major Tom?

Mitchell went on to find some ironic justification for the media’s unenthusiastic reaction to Cink’s win.

Anyone who uses his acceptance speech to thank his wife for introducing him to the Almighty so fits the stereotype of boring American God-bothering Republican-supporting lime-green-hat-and-shirt and cream-trouser wearing golfer [that] he deserves all the indifference he gets.

The Counter-argument

A journalist for the rival newspaper produces a counter-argument, taking the religion and sport theme a little further: Michael Henderson, writing for The Telegraph, rejected the idea thus:

Bernhard Langer thanked the Almighty after he won the Masters for the second time on Easter Sunday in 1993. But he’s from Bavaria, which is really Mississippi by another name, so that’s all right. However, let us go back exactly three years, to the Lord’s Test of July 2006, when Mohammad Yousuf made a lovely century for Pakistan against England. Let us consider what one reporter called the “moving act of faith” with which Yousuf, the Christian-turned-Muslim, celebrated as he knelt towards Mecca.

Henderson then quoted Mitchell’s account of that story:

“…it would be nice to think that the warmth of the reception that ripped around the ground as Yousuf went through his now-familiar ritual of thanks was acknowledgement of his religious convictions as much as his fine batting …the interaction between Yousuf and the crowd encouraged the hope that sport does cut through prejudice occasionally.”

Henderson disagreed.

Who’s talking about prejudice? The only thing the Lord’s crowd is interested in is whether a chap can play, and Yousuf can… The only acts of faith that have any relevance in sport are those which have nothing to do with religion. Let’s keep it that way.

Keep Religion out of Sport?

The history of sport shows that moral beliefs and organised sport have inter-mingled for millennia. In the 19th century the philosophy of Muscular Christianity was introduced into the influential public school system in England so that sport, sportsmanship, and religion were utterly conflated as character-building and Empire building.

A feminist perspective suggests that

Given how men have historically dominated sports, it’s only natural that they would become a locus of Muscular Christianity. In the late 19th century, Christian men joined fraternal groups which emphasized exercise. With the growth of professional sports during the 20th century, Christian athletes argued that the body is a temple to God, making athletes quasi-priests. Of particular importance for evangelical Christians has been the use of high school and college sports to promote Christianity

The Spirit of Sportsmanship

The main thrust of Mitchell’s article was the danger of losing the spirit of sportsmanship in Cricket, another game where ethical conduct is highly prized. Keeping religion out of sport is far from a simple matter.

On Pelotons, Tigers, and Leading from the Front in the Tour de France

July 17, 2009



The Tour de France, and the Open Golf Championship both offer insights about leading from the front

Susan asks good questions. Ones I don’t have answers to. This week, as we were watching Tour de France highlights on Eurosport, she broke in with

“How is it the main group always catches the breakaway leader?”

Our cycling friends have been quick to provide us with answers. It seems that sometimes, the front-runner does escape and win. But far more often, the breakaway leader is overtaken by the main group or Peloton.

The peloton is like some monstrous cycling centipede possessing the wisdom of the swarm. The arrangement conserves energy for individuals which has to be sacrificed by anyone who breaks away and becomes a breakaway leader. That provides for numerous tactics and team work.

As we watched, the process looked as if the one-time leader was caught and somehow then trick-cycled backwards through the swarming riders making up the peloton.

A few years ago, Paul Hochman wrote a brilliant journalistic description of how it all works:

Nothing in [American] sports resembles the bizarre dynamic of the cycling peloton, partly because a stage race is less a sporting event than a commodities exchange on wheels. What appears to be a random mass of bicycles is really an orderly, complex web of shifting alliances, crossed with brutal competition, designed to keep or acquire the market’s most valued currency: energy.
Amassing it (i.e., letting as little of it as possible drain away) is the only way for a racer to survive the brutal physical strain of a Tour de France, the metabolic equivalent of running 21 marathons in 23 days. Bikers save energy by riding together in a massive slipstream. Those who save the most energy can “buy” various goods – international glory, TV time, a bright yellow jersey, attractive French girls.

But here’s the key: To thrive in the angry little swarm that is the peloton, enemies often have to stick together and make deals with one another. Cooperation across enemy lines is the centerpiece of a winning game plan. It’s a weird concept to those accustomed to the zero-sum, us-them finality of the walk-off home run or the Hail Mary touchdown pass.
Why play nice with someone who might beat you? Racers in the peloton are not pals; they’re enemies without options.

To which it might be worth mentioning that not winning a stage may not be the same as losing one. The gallant front-runners are still doing a good job for their sponsors whose branding they are sustaining. The breakaway will have been worth a lot of prime-time ads.

The golfing front-runner

How about golf? Is there a peloton principle at work? Not quite. Tiger Woods has a fearsome reputation for winning when he does hit the front.

However, there is general principle which is more statistical than psychological at play. It explains why a relatively lowly-ranked golfer can leap into a substantial lead after the first round of a tournament, and why is almost always caught by many of the pursuing group.

Simple stats can test whether there is a random deviation around an average score. Some high and some low scores are the inevitable result of the expected distribution of scores. The stats can reveal if variations are due to a few exceptionally good (and exceptionally bad) players, or may be no more than a statistical effect.

When more data become available in the next round, there will be similar expected distributions of scores. For the front-runner, there is only one direction to move. Down. The result is that the one-time leader appears to be going backwards. Just like the would-be leader in the Tour de France.

Tiger, and Tiger alone for much of the last decade, plays golf in a way which can’t be explained as a random distribution of scores. If Tiger appears in the lead, the greatest of modern players, the rest of the competition, and almost all watchers of the event reach the same conclusion. Tiger is on his way to another win. Tiger’s scores are those of a statistical outlier.

How about Leadership Behaviours outside Sport?

Just a few speculative thoughts. Might the processes of the Peloton and of statistical theory help explain more mysterious phenomena such as momentum (leader going forward) and loss of momentum (leader going backward)?

And what about the tall-poppy syndrome, or the more folksy principle that pride comes before a fall? Might we have some explanations from tales of the Tour and the Tiger?

Much food for thought on the dynamics of leading from the front, the hero-to-zero phenomenon, and maybe even the tall-poppy syndrome.


The brilliant illustration of a peloton in action is from the social networking site Fark. The post also explains the how and why of the flocking process of Geese.

Monty is appointed Ryder Cup captain: A curious king-making process

January 30, 2009


Colin Montgomerie is appointed Europe’s Ryder Cup captain to wide acclaim from players and pundits alike. By the manner of his appointment reveals a curious king-making process

The right man, it seems. The right stuff. A great competitor. The best player never to win a golf major, and Europe’s top ranking player for nearly a decade. And he also lifts his game for Ryder Cup competitions. So it seems these facts make him the ideal captain for the Ryder Cup. Or, maybe, the best captain that the selection process could come up with.

Colin Montgomerie is as well-known a public figure as almost any in the sporting world. His exposure to the general public has been huge through televised records of countless tournaments and interviews. A turbulent private life has brought further and unwelcome publicity. A few years ago, a breech of rules blew up into a Jakartagate incident for which he was censored heavily. Even this week there is a little matter of an appeal to reverse a driving offence conviction [30th Jan 2009].

Over a period of years he has presented himself as a person of towering rages, at caddies, press, and in reports of alleged violence in his private life). The symptoms are not unknown in leaders in all walks of life. They may well be part of the dark side of the charismatic personality documented by such leadership experts as de Vries, Kellerman, and Kotter. Our correspondent Jeff Schubert has a lot to say on boardroom and political dictators, and of the effect they have on their close associates.

A powerful need to achieve in a leader is not infrequently associated with aggression, ideally channelled into performance. It is tolerated in the successful leader, but it is also then cited subsequently by those who were silently compliant if the leader loses the battle to retain the top job.

In some cases, the selection trade-off is clear but the risk is judged to be worth taking. This may be because of conditions of crisis, or the absence of one ‘safe’ candidate above others.

In this case, details reported of the decision-making have been reported the general public. The process is an interesting one, and worth considering by students of leadership and ‘king-making’. We know that there is considerable amount of consensus-seeking among the leading European Tour players. We know that a group of king-makers including representatives from the players arrives at a decision over a series of meetings. The process is very thorough. We know that Monty was an influential member of the selection group, and that for the most part was not considered as the (traditionally non-playing) captain. He had made it clear that although declining from his peak he intended to fight for his place as a player in the forthcoming Ryder Cup, in Wales.

Another candidate, Olazabal, was a far greater favourite, with Ian Woosnam as second favourite, someone who would have the additional attraction of added support from Welsh audiences at the Celtic Manor course. The Times on line has a good background to the tortuous reasoning around the decision which went against the Spaniard.

Montgomerie himself suggested that in these discussions, that ‘it became clear that my time had come’ [my recollection of his words in several interviews in the days after his appointment ]. Other reports suggested that another player had put Monty’s name forward. That sounded as if the selection had become mired-down, and that the various claims for the (one-off) appointment had managed to neutralise one another, and weaken the prospects of the front-runners.

In this version (not discouraged by Monty subsequently), onee his name was suggested, it made sense, to the selectors. It had a similar effect on Montgomerie. Scales dropped from his eyes (so to speak). A moment of insight.

And so it was that a decision was reached. After a few weeks and in a subsequent meeting, the appointment was confirmed publically.

The appointment is greeted with considerable enthusiasm by the press (and not just the report in The Scotsman). I expected a few high-profile dissenting voices in the press. It was also greeted with enthusiasm by the players. Not so unexpected, as the captain gets to chose two players for the team, (the others appointed by their places on the European Tour order of merit. That fact, and Monty’s expressed view that he would like to pick all sixteen, makes it a bit more difficult to find players willing to offer churlish remarks about the newly appointed captain.

Colin Montgomerie has managed to present himself as a person who can show a loss of self-control under stress. This may be a price worth paying. Players explain why they need someone vastly experienced in winning as a player in the Ryder Cup. After the last match they qualified this in remarkably ageist terms to exclude otherwise outstanding candidates It seems they would be less overawed by a contemporary figures with whom they has played, than say a Nick Faldo who was a great player froman earlier generation. Ah, that’s OK then. Over fifties need not apply.

I’m not convinced by the rationale of this (or is it a rationalization?). That is not to say that the result may be alright. In which case everyone will feel comfortable about preserving not just the selection process, but these assumptions that accompany it. And if Monty’s team lose, there will be plenty of denying that the captaincy emerged within a rather curious king-making process.


The king-making was also marred by leaks which produced betting irregularities.


Nick Faldo and the Tall Poppy Syndrome

September 22, 2008

The much-fancied European team loses the Ryder Cup. Within hours, the recriminations begin against team captain Faldo. The predicted process of cutting down the tall poppy has begun

This is a postscript on the week-end’s post on Ryder Cup leadership. In particular the observation on the tall poppy syndrome …

[S]horthand for the process in which high-profile figures receive celebrity status and at the same time become vulnerable to attacks ‘to bring them down to earth’. The process began when Faldo, someone always likely to be unswayed by popular sentiment, omitted public favourite Darren Clarke, and appeared to have given Ian Poulter (another quirky and gifted personality) preferential treatment even as other players struggled for the automatic places available on the team through tournament rankings.

As it happens, the captain’s pick, Ian Poulter, was the outstanding success of a patchy performance from Europe’s best golfers. That has hardly lessened the post-match criticisms.

Was Faldo a bad captain? Nowhere nearly as bad as he is now being presented.

The Tall Poppy Syndrome is alive and well, and maybe needs as much attention as those other pernicious poppy harvests around the world.