NEWS AND FEATURES
Trump National - Philadelphia clubhouse 
Trump Natl-Philadelphia adds 101 new members

By Joe Logan
Published June 11, 2010

While many private clubs in the area languish in the down economy, at Trump National - Philadelphia everything is coming up aces.

 

During a recent interview on XM Sirius radio’s PGA Tour Network, Donald Trump said that since he acquired the 10-year-old Pine Hill GC in Camden County on Christmas Eve last year and rebranded it as the fully-private Trump National - Philadelphia, the club has added 101 new members.

 

Could that be right, especially at a time when all but a few private clubs in the region are holding on for dear life?

 

"It’s a little higher than that now, actually," said Eric J. Quinn, general manager of Trump National -Philadelphia.  "It is just incredible.  We always knew this club was great but what Mr. Trump is doing is taking it to another level."

 

What is attracting new members, said Quinn, is the Trump name, of course, plus the flamboyant billionaire’s promise to see that the club reaches its full potential.

 

Toward that end, a complete makeover is underway on the $6 million clubhouse, transforming it from what Quinn described as "Adirondack pine cones" to "white wainscoting and crystal chandeliers."  As for the golf course, Trump has brought back his pal Tom Fazio, who is the original designer, to make changes to a number of holes.  (Below is a member’s description of the specific changes.)

 

"The work on the course is about 60 to 70 percent complete; the work on the clubhouse is about 50 percent complete," said Quinn.

 

Where are the number members coming from?  All over.

 

Of the 101-plus newbies, said Quinn, it is a mix of corporate, individual and families.  Some are former t Pine Hill GC members; others are non-golf social members who are joining primarily for the dining and entertaining facilities. The balance are refugees from other foundering clubs in the area, especially a few in South Jersey.

 

"It is a blend," Quinn of the new members. "There are people who have not been on the Pine Hill roster in two, two, four years.  They left because it never turned private; when they heard we were turning private, they came knocking on our doors.

 

As for the influx of members from other clubs, Quinn said, "You know what is happening in our market.  There are clubs that have been forced to close, and clubs that have bee forced to turn public.  Those are the members we have picked up."

 

Trump National – Philadelphia opened as Pine Hill GC in late 2000, during the Great Golf Course Boom, to much fanfare, replete with the 43,000 square-foot clubhouse Fazio golf course, reportedly at a cost of $20 million. (Trump later put the figure at $45 million).  Developed by Eric Bergstol and Empire Golf Management, the plan at the time was to operate it as an upscale country-club-for-a-day, and indeed Pine Hill was promoted as the "public Pine Valley."

 

By 2003, however, with the market for upscale daily fee courses cooling, Pine Hill announced it was going to begin accepting memberships, with $15,000 initiation fees, plus $5,500 annual dues.  Once they reached 300 members, it would go from semi-private to fully-private.  To entice members, anyone joining Pine Hill would automatically also be a member of the ClubMax, giving them access to six "core courses" owned or run by Empire

 

Pine Hill never did reach 300 memberships and, thus, never went completely private.  By the time it caught Trump’s eye, the club reportedly had just under 200 members and green fees were $95.

 

At the same time he bought Pine Hill, Trump also acquired Branton Woods GC in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., making them the 10th and 11th properties in the Trump Golf portfolio. 

 

What about Pine Hill attracted Trump?

 

The proximity to Pine Valley GC, the No. 1 ranked course in the country. Not only was Pine Hill minutes only away, it was built on very similar topography – sandy soil, rolling terrain amid a wealth of pine trees.

 

Currently, said Quinn, Trump National – Philadelphia has between 300-325 members, of which just over 250 are full golf members.  For now, the initiation remains $10,000, with annual dues of $6,250.

 

By the fall, Quinn said, dues will remain the same but that the initiation fees will jump to the "somewhere in the mid-20s."

 

They have not yet decided on a cap for the number of members.  "We are still evaluating the membership and their playing habits," said Quinn.  "You want to have enough members so that it is a viable club, but you don’t want to have so many they can’t get out and play."

 

So far, Trump National – Philadelphia has done no advertising, relying only on the Trump brand and word of mouth.  "We’re still in the process of renovating," said Quinn.  "Any pictures we put out there would be what we were rather than what we are becoming."

 

Following is a description of the recent changes to the golf course, written by Trump National – Philadelphia member Jason Walker and posted on the website GolfClubAtlas.com.  Quinn said Walker’s posting is a fair and accurate

 

New tee box on 1, added approx 50 yards to back tees.  This is a good thing, Number 1 was a Par 4-4.5 for most long hitters due to the nature of the fairway.

 

Number 5...the waste bunker has been dug out and replaced with a small lake.  When I first heard the idea I thought it was ridiculous.  Has turned out to be the biggest positive surprise of all the changes.  Looks fantastic, and with all of the closely mowed areas to the front and right of the green that were added over the last several years, plays great too.  No question it's more penal, but that waste bunker was a maintenance disaster.

 

Number 8....new tee box, not yet opened.  Will make the hole play approx 230-240 from the back tees.  Talk of clearing more trees and eventually turning this into a short par 4 in the 300 yard range....something many of us who have played there for years have been pushing for.

 

Number 9...now a par 5 with approx 120 yards added straight back from the original tee boxes.  This just opened.  I will say I'm not really a fan of this change, but I've only played it as a Par 5 once.

 

Number 13...new tee box across the back cart path.  Back tees play approx 190 now.  Great move.  Adds a ton more tee options to this hole.

 

Number 14...new tee box, adds approx 30 yards to the back tees.  Again, similar to Number 1, this hole needed more distance from the back tees.  This tee box adds an entirely new dimension to the hole for the long hitter.  Still potentially reachable in two, but there's a real decision to be made as the second will be played with a fairway wood--and the layup is no picnic with lots of options.

 

Number 15...new tee box, adds approx 20 yards to the back tees.   New angle to the hole.  In the past, long hitters could cut the corner and this new tee box removes that option.

 

Number 16...new tee box, across the cart path.  Back tees play approx 210 yards.

 

Significant upgrading of the clubhouse and practice areas are underway.  All in all, I've been really impressed with the changes to the golf course--with the exception of the conversion of Number 9 to a par-5.  In addition, the conditions have improved significantly and in the usual Trump style the aesthetics and off-course areas have also improved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Steve[6/12/2010 6:06:26 AM]
I wonder what percent of the new members are social members.


 
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