Where next for the Irish Open? Trump plans "even bigger project" for Doonbeg
 Donald Trump returns Rory McIlroy's three-iron at Doral last week. Picture via Twitter/ @CDW_Jessica

Donald Trump returns Rory McIlroy's three-iron at Doral last week. Picture via Twitter/@CDW_Jessica

A European Tour spokesman has confirmed that Lough Erne Resort will host the Irish Open as planned in 2017.

With Donald Trump back in the news cycle following the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral last week, speculation had grown that Lough Erne could be moved from its 2017 slot in favour of an early visit to Trump International Golf Links & Hotel, Ireland, aka, Doonbeg .

Not true, it appears.

"It's as per the venue announcement in May 2014," the European Tour responded. "Royal County Down for 2015 and then Lough Erne in 2017."

With a title sponsor for 2015 to be announced at Royal County Down this Friday (with future sponsorship to be discussed after the event) the chances of that company staying on board will clearly depend on future venues.

County Louth, which is convenient for many Northern Ireland based fans, has been mentioned as a potential 2016 venue as have Mount Juliet, The Island and others.

Trump has made no secret of the fact that he has been speaking to the European Tour about the Irish Open but according to Clare People, it appears that it may be a few years before his golf course will be ready.

Last Friday, Trump withdrew a planning application lodged with Clare County Council to construct coastal defences at Doonbeg, where a large swathe of the property is out of bounds to him because of the protected dunes and the microscopic snail.

Far from giving up on a venue that faces the constant threat of coastal erosion, the American billionaire is understood to be contemplating an even bigger project in the near future.

The new plan would not only include better coastal defences but also the long awaited changes to the golf course, which have already been drawn up by his preferred links architect, Dr Martin Hawtreee

Writing in the Clare People, Andrew Hamilton reports that the withdrawal of the planning application is not the end but the beginning of a new story: 

A spokesman for the Trump International Golf Course has indicated that the issue is far from closed. Indeed, it is understood that Trump is currently putting together a larger proposal which would include the coastal defences as well as the much mooted extension of the golf course itself. The withdrawal has been welcomed by Friend of the Irish Environment (FIE), who say that the environmental management plan for the golf course, whlch was agreed when the original plamng permission was granted, has not been enforced since the Trump family took ownership of the resort."