The "losers" have gotten their wish, at least for now.
Donald Trump has informed Engineers Country Club that his proposal to take over the Roslyn Harbor, N.Y., club, site of the 1919 PGA Championship, is off the table. In a letter to Engineers' chairman of the board, Robert Scheinman—a copy of which was obtained by this blog—the real estate developer said that "infighting among your members" influenced the decision.
To "elevate the Engineers Country Club to a Trump standard, which is the highest standard in golf, I would want unanimity among the members and not the divisiveness that permeates the Club at present," Trump wrote.
That may be a rare case of understatement from the outspoken mogul, who was quoted calling Engineers members opposed to a Trump deal "losers" in a January 14 New York Post "Page Six" item. The proposed offer to turn Engineers CC into Trump National – Long Island led to the formation of an anti-Trump group, the Association for a Better Engineers (ABE), whose anonymous members threatened to sue the club and its board members if the proposal were brought to a full membership vote. On January 19, a new group of at least 16 Engineers members, which dubbed itself "LTP," for "Let Them Pay," sent a letter to the Engineers board voicing its support for bringing Trump's proposal to a vote. This blog obtained a copy of that letter as well.
"We believe that ABE has sought to bring wrongful pressure to bear by going to the press with misleading statements for the sole purpose of scaring off a valuable financial opportunity," wrote Sid Schwartzapfel, "and if that is proven to be the case, we intend to hold ABE and its members...liable for any assessments which are imposed as a result of this small group's selfish actions."
Such internal strife may well have influenced the Trump Organization's decision to walk away from the bargaining table, but there were also financial considerations at work. Trump's letter to Scheinman noted that, "The Trump Organization has been asked to guarantee unknown and open-ended liabilities --- something which, because of the uncertainties, we cannot agree to do."
A spokesman for the Trump Organization declined comment.
One veteran member—who claims not to be affiliated with either ABE or LTP—said he doubted that LTP would, or could, follow through on any action against ABE members. Absent Trump and Engineers returning to the negotiating table (a possibility that should not be discounted), the member said he expects a five-figure assessment this year. Asked if he thought the mood at the club would be tense when the new season begins, the member demurred.
"When the sun is shining and people are out playing golf, these things have a way of being put to the side," the member said. "That said, the entire thing has been a mess."