THE BRONX — Ruben Diaz Jr. was part of the first foursome to play at Donald Trump's golf course in Throgs Neck back in April 2015, but the Bronx borough president said he has been boycotting it since Trump announced his presidential candidacy just a few months later.
"We opened up the golf course officially to the public, and it was great until, in June of 2015, two and a half months later, he announced his candidacy," Diaz said Monday during a meeting with editors and reporters at the DNAinfo New York office. "And I’ve been boycotting it ever since."
Diaz said he was initially excited about getting Trump involved with developing the golf course at Ferry Point Park, as the idea had been talked about for decades before actually coming to fruition, and he thought Trump's name recognition could help deliver the message that The Bronx had made great improvements since the 1970s and 1980s.
He even hoped that the course and its home borough could make an appearance on Trump's hit TV show “The Apprentice.”
“In my mind, I had this movie that he would have the apprentices waiting for him on the green where he helicopters down and tells the world and his 20 million viewers, ‘We’re in The Bronx in this beautiful golf course,’ and it would help us with our branding,” Diaz said.
The course officially opened April 1, 2015, and Trump announced his bid for the presidency soon after on June 16 in a speech where he referred to Mexicans as rapists.
The controversial remark sparked an effort to have the city cancel Trump's contract for the golf course, and Diaz said his boycott started then as well.
"When he speaks out against Muslims, when he speaks out against Mexicans and Latinos, that to me is anti-Bronx," Diaz said. "That’s the reason why I boycotted the golf course."
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Diaz still maintained that the golf course itself was having a positive impact on The Bronx despite his problems with Trump, noting that property values in Throgs Neck had gone up, Bronxites had gotten jobs at the links and more people were coming to the borough to play golf and go out to local restaurants.
However, one thing Diaz said he would have been upset about even if Trump had not started running for president is the fact that the golf course is not advertised as being in The Bronx, counteracting one of the main reasons he was so excited about setting it up.
"The one thing I take exception to is that he does not promote the golf course as in The Bronx," he said. "If you go there, it’s the Trump Links at Ferry Point, New York. It kills me that that's the case because Ferry Point is not even a neighborhood in The Bronx. The golf course is in the neighborhood of Throgs Neck."
Diaz said he was having conversations with Trump about using the course to promote The Bronx more, but those conversations ceased after his presidential campaign began. He could not recall if Trump's agreement for the course had included specifications about what to name it.
Although not having The Bronx in the name of the golf course is frustrating, Diaz stressed that Trump's comments against groups such as Muslims and Mexicans were much more significant than any marketing issues involving the borough.
"That’s way, for me, more offensive and way more important, what he’s saying now as a presidential candidate, than having The Bronx as part of his marketing scheme," he said.