Trump Golf Resort Plan Tees Off Landed Local

Longtime isle resident won't give in to developer's plan for luxury golf resort.

ByNick Watt and Paolo Marenghi
November 18, 2009, 9:57 AM

ABERDEENSHIRE, Scotland, <br> Nov. 18, 2009 &#151; -- Donald Trump has a vision for a beautiful stretch of Scotland's coast: A luxury hotel and spa, vacation villas, tennis courts, an archery range and -- the main attraction -- a golf course like no other.

Within two years, the Trumps want a scrubby patch of Aberdeenshire dunes to be crawling with golfers wearing plaid pants and sun visors. And, in typical Trump fashion, he claims this will be the greatest golf course in the world.

"We really wanted it to be in Scotland," said Trump. "It's the birthplace of golf, and it's also the birthplace of Mary MacLeod, who happens to be my mother. And I just think there is no piece of land in the world like this. And virtually everybody agrees with me."

But there's a wee problem. A problem called Michael Forbes, who wears a kilt and a determined scowl on his face. Forbes has lived on this coast for 41 years and refuses to sell what he calls home to make way for a billionaire's dream.

"There's no amount of money," Forbes told ABC News.

Not even $20 million, enough to buy himself an island?

"No, doesn't mean nothing to me. Not a thing."

'It's My Scrap Yard'

The battle lines are drawn: It's Goliath versus David. And neither side lacks for pugnacity.

"Fight him," said Forbes, raising his fists to explain how he'd like to settle matters. "I'd like to fight him that way."

"It sounds like a good idea," said Trump when told of the challenge. "We could charge admission. We'd do very well."

ABC News visited the day the Trump forces broke ground on the golf course. The Donald was in New York, safe from the pugilistic farmer. The loafers on the ground, as it were, belonged to Donnie Junior.

"I went down to [Forbes'] house multiple times, just to even have a dialogue, and I got cursed," Trump Jr. told ABC. His suede loafers, by the way, were caked in Aberdeenshire mud.

Forbes confirmed that Trump Jr. had tried to talk to him.

"Yeah," Forbes said. "I chased them from the place."

Now, the golf course can be completed without Forbes' 23 acres. The problem is that his property, in all its rustic glory -- some would say disheveled squalor -- would be visible from the luxury hotel.

"You don't want to be looking down at a building that's dilapidated, rusting and not properly maintained," said Trump. "If that makes sense."

"I've got everything I want," countered Forbes. "I've worked hard for what I've got here. He calls it a scrap yard. He calls it a dump. He can please himself what he calls it. It's my scrap yard, it's my dump."

Trump has offered to pay Forbes above market value for his property. He's also offered free membership in the golf course.

"I'm the guy trying to have dialogue, trying to have a conversation," said Trump Jr. "We recognize it's a very difficult conversation. We recognize the sensitivities involved. But we also do have to move forward."

We asked Forbes if he sees any chance of compromise.

"No, he said. "He pissed me off badly from the start."

A handful of other home owners are also holding out. David Milne's converted coast guard station is on Trump's wish list.

"I've put blood, sweat and tears, quite literally, into this building and have no intention of leaving," said Milne. "Why should I? I cannot replace this location with anything in this country."

Would he chain himself to the railings?

"That depends how far it goes."

The Scottish Wildlife Trust isn't happy either. There's supposed to be a preservation order on this land.

"The really big issue for us is the uniqueness and the rarity of this particular type of habitat," said trust spokesman Jonny Hughes.

They call this a dynamic dune, it moves around, and the shifting sand supports some rare ferns and invertebrates.

"I would never give in until we see bulldozers marching across these sand dunes behind us," said Hughes, gesturing to an expanse of wind-blown sand.

Back in 2007, the development was turned down by local planners. Then, the Donald flew to Scotland to state his case, the Scottish government loudly lauded the returning son, and, well, most people decided that another golf course wasn't such a bad idea after all.

Hopes for Money and Jobs

This stretch of windy coastline is littered with golf courses already. At Murcar Links Golf Club, next door to the proposed Trump development, we asked the captain Hugh Stuart if Aberdeenshire really needs another course. "Well, probably not," conceded Stuart.

But no one really needs a golf course. Like no one really needs a bowling alley. There is room for another course, Stuart said -- particularly a very, very good one.

"Hopefully, it'll draw a lot of golf enthusiasts," said Stuart.

And that means money and jobs. Now, Donald Trump isn't a household name round these parts. The British version of "The Apprentice" is hosted by a guy with a beard, not the Donald.

"They don't actually know who [Trump] is, said local councilman Allan Hendry. "They know that he's a big American with loads of money."

They -- the locals that is -- mostly want Trump's dream to become reality.

The pragmatic Hendry smells jobs. "In these things that happen across the world there are always casualties," said Hendry. "There are always casualties of these things. And unfortunately on this occasion that may well be Mr. Forbes or Mr. Milne."

For now, the Trumps aren't pushing for compulsory purchase orders on either the Forbes or Milne home. Not yet, that is.

"We have made offers to the people," said Trump. "The offers are there."

Milne confirmed that he had received an offer. He called it "peanuts."

"We've upped the offers a little bit," said Trump. "And we'll see what happens. We're discussing with them."

But Forbes claims he's not listening.

"I've nothing to talk to them about, no," said Forbes. "The place is not for sale. It's never been for sale. And they can't understand that. They think there's a price on everybody. There's not a price on me.

Forbes promises a legal quagmire. A drawn out battle that will roll on, Forbes says, until Trump is dead, buried and gone to hell. Now that's fighting talk.

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