I don't buy the idea that golf is too expensive. You may say it's outrageous to pay $300 to play Pebble Beach, but I say it's cheap. Where else can you get a piece of heaven for a price like that?
I have five courses under construction, including one designed by Arthur Hills on the former Rockefeller estate in Bedford, N.Y., and a Jim Fazio design to be called Trump International in Palm Beach, Fla. My courses will be top of the line, the upper peak of luxury. They'll be ideal settings for that other great sport, dealmaking. I have made many a deal on golf courses. Even more important, I've met people and developed relationships there. Many buildings in New York City are the direct results of my golf outings. In fact, as soon as I sign off on this column, I will close a deal to buy the General Motors Building at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, and some of the discussions for that purchase took place on golf courses.
You can size up a man by his golf game. Is he conservative, or does he shoot for the flag? Is he a winner or a loser? While playing with Ray Floyd, Greg Norman, Gary Player and other pros, I've been impressed by their courage. Playing in front of millions on TV—hitting a lob shot that will go in the water and make you look like an idiot if you mishit it by a hundredth of an inch—takes the same courage and decisiveness a great businessman needs.
Among the pros, Payne Stewart is a favorite of mine. At the 185-yard 12th hole at Spyglass during the 1993 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he said, "Donald, slow down your swing." Swinging more slowly, I hit a five-iron into the hole for an ace and then said, "You mean like that?"
My best golf tip for businessmen: The time to talk about a deal is right after the other guy hits his best shot of the day.