MOORESVILLE – Gavin Arsenault frequently can be heard telling his staff to “make it happen!” if unforeseen challenges threaten to derail an event at Trump National Golf Club Charlotte.
When the weather is clear enough for clouds to reflect on the lake surface that hugs the perimeter of the club, Donald Trump’s $10 million investment in the property sparkles.
Trump, who bought and renamed the club April 6, 2012, for $3 million, has enacted a series of changes, encompassing everything from the menu to the Greg Norman-designed golf course.
Arsenault, the club’s general manager, originally met Trump 15 years ago at a book signing near Juniper, Fla. Trump held Arsenault’s daughter, Hannah, just a baby at the time, and signed a copy of “Trump: The Art of the Comeback.”
A framed photograph of the event hangs right outside Arsenault’s office. He never dreamed he’d one day be working for the famous family.
“Mr. Trump actually calls me quite often and asks how my family is,” Arsenault said. “It’s still a little surreal.”
Those personal touches extend to club residents like NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth or PGA tournament player Martin Kaymer when they experience a win and receive Trump gift baskets.
Reporting directly to Trump’s son, Eric, Arsenault has overseen a variety of renovations to the club’s golf course, ballroom, dining rooms, tennis courts and bakery shop over the last 12 months.
For starters, the bakery now features a vast selection of wines as well as Starbucks coffee. Meanwhile, the golf course is stretching from 6,900 to 7,500 yards, with a larger driving range and greens transitioning to Bermuda grass, which is more heat-resistant. Arsenault anticipates renovations will be completed by August.
Right across the cobble stone square from the Nantucket-style clubhouse is a Trump International Realty office, which opened in late April.
“Trump International Realty is a big deal around the world. Ivanka (Trump’s daughter) is heavily involved in it,” Arsenault said. “We’re the last club they bought, and the first one to get it done. So New York’s pretty impressed that we’re opening a real estate office so soon.”
He said the company, with locations in Las Vegas, Chicago and New York City, manages a database of more than 100,000 people around the world interested in buying lake property and connects them with home sellers.
“Sometimes the lake is a secret until people come to the area,” said Gloria Monahan, Arsenault’s assistant. “It’s a wonderful, well-kept secret.”
Between December 2012 and March 2013, an outdoor wedding gazebo area overlooking the lake transformed into an interior, circular space with ample natural sunlight. That area now flows into the Lakefront Ballroom, complete with Italian crystal chandeliers.
“It used to be like a barn setting,” Arsenault said. “It had a dark feel with blue walls and a dark floor.”
Monahan said the updated dancing venue has “no competition in the area.”
The club’s tavern menu is even in the throes of change.
“We are trying to transition more into the healthy lifestyle,” Arsenault said. “Southern comfort foods is maybe a thing of the past for us. We’re moving toward daily, fresh products from fish to fruits.”
Everything in the dining area including the menu jackets, tables and placemats match Trump’s 14 other golf clubs in Los Angeles, Scotland and Washington, D.C. Trump even hand-selected the golfers’ photographs that hang on their walls.
Members in this area hail from The Farms neighborhood nearby and from far-off locales including Miami, London and Hong Kong.
“The club has a total of 1,050 members, which is significantly up from when the Trumps originally bought it,” Arsenault said.
Those memberships include social, sports and golf categories, and Arsenault believes membership levels will stay stable for the foreseeable future.
He also doesn’t anticipate much more expansion for the club.
“I see the club as probably updating its amenities, keeping them updated and modernized, but the club is pretty much landlocked,” he said.