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Donald Trump tees off on new Golf Links
July 12, 2012

US tycoon Donald Trump struck the first ball on his new luxury golf course in Scotland on Tuesday, saying the battles with environmentalists had all been worth it.

The Trump International Golf Links, situated at Menie, north of Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland, took seven years and cost more than £100 million ($155 million, 125 million euros) to build.

Bagpipers escorted Trump and 2010 European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie to the first hole, where the businessman cut a ribbon before teeing off.

"It's been worth it because we've created something iconic," Trump said.

"This is truly the greatest golf course anywhere in the world.

"Everybody knows it, lots of people are saying it, and most importantly golf people are saying it, so we are really honoured by the way it has turned out.

"It's the whole structure that makes it special -- the dunes, being on the North Sea -- the architect has done an amazing job.

"What's good for golf is good for Scotland because Scotland is the home front for golf."

Work to create the course started in July 2010, some five years after Trump bought the site.

The course, which is almost three miles (five kilometres) long, will open to the public on Sunday.

Sandy Jones, chief executive of the Professional Golfers' Association, and George O'Grady, chief executive of the European Tour, said they would work to bring major golf events to the course.

Montgomerie called the site a "marvel" that made him proud to be a Scottish professional golfer.

Trump, Montgomerie, Jones and O'Grady played the first nine holes.

Trump has clashed with local residents, environmentalists, wind farm manufacturers and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond since buying the land.

Environmental campaigners opposed the construction of the course on protected sand dunes.

Around 160 jobs have been created so far, including management, catering and course maintenance posts.

Plans for a hotel and houses on the site have been shelved until a decision is made on a proposed off-shore wind farm.

"As soon as we find out that they are not going to destroy Scotland by building windmills all over the place we will start immediately on the hotel," Trump said.

"I don't think the windfarm will happen because it will be the destruction of Aberdeen and the destruction of Scotland ultimately.

"People are seeing that all over the world windfarms are being abandoned, so I can't imagine that they will put up these ridiculous monsters that don't make economic sense and destroy the environment."

To coincide with the opening, environmental campaigners have released a documentary film in selected cinemas entitled "You've Been Trumped".

Dave Morris, director of Ramblers Scotland, called on the Scottish government to protect the natural landscape.

"Our coastline needs protecting from every Tom, Dick and Donald who wants to make a quick buck," he said.

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