SNOWMASS, Colo. – In recognition of the just-completed Tour de France and the omnipresent American Tour de Force, otherwise known as Donald Trump, here is an actual letter sent 18 years ago to Ron Krajian of Aspen, Colo.
“Dear Mr. Krajian:
“We represent Donald J. Trump and Trump Plaza Associates, owners of the trademark and service mark Tour de Trump. The Tour de Trump is an internationally recognized ten-day cycling race that has been heavily publicized.
“You are using the name and mark Tour de Rump in connection with an ‘inaugural’ cycling event. Your use of that name and mark is likely to cause confusion, and constitutes trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin, all in violation of applicable federal and state laws.
“Unless you give us your written assurance within 24 hours after receipt of this letter that you will forthwith cease and desist using the name and mark Tour de Rump, or any name or mark confusingly similar to Tour de Trump, we will institute legal action against you seeking injunctive relief, legal fees, and actual and punitive damages.”
The Tour de Rump was conceived as a combination of bicycle riding and puzzle solving in which riders are sent from one destination to another in a sort of intellectual bike competition.
Krajian sent a letter back to Trump that said, “Kiss my Trump” or something like that. Actually, he carefully explained that the race is strictly a local affair, with no commercial involvement whatsoever. He also invited Trump to participate.
He never heard another word.
Krajian and I were sitting in the clubhouse at the Snowmass Club. We had just played Snowmass, one of those absurdly picturesque Colorado courses designed by Jim Engh, who clearly is the John Denver of golf course architects.
Krajian pointed to the letter, dated Aug. 8, 1989, and uttered what I can only describe as the Krajian laugh. This laugh is contagious, for Krajian is a gregarious guy who makes people feel comfortable with themselves.
I am tempted to call Krajian the crown prince – or is it the clown prince? – of Colorado golf. No matter. He relishes in telling endless golf jokes, or any jokes that reflect on the human condition.
Krajian is just a good-natured guy. In Aspen, he even has a bridge named after him.
He is not a great player. In fact, he is a lousy player. But he loves golf. He has fun and never complains, even though his senior bones sometimes ache at 8,000 feet elevation.
Because Trump is such a staggering figure in our culture, celebrated by many and mocked by some, his brief correspondence with Krajian kindled my curiosity.
What if Trump, who currently is building a stable of world-class courses under his ownership, started writing letters to golf people?
I could imagine a few:
• “Dear St. Andrews, for $10 billion I have acquired ownership of the word ‘golf.’ As a result, I am requesting that you kindly stop using the word. This should really be no hardship – you can call yourself St. Andrews Beach & Surf Club.”
• “Dear U.S. Golf Association, I have enclosed a petition in the matter of the term shank. You see, I would like the name to be changed. Shank is meaningless in today’s world. Let’s substitute a name that really means something. It should have five letters, like the original, but should be more appropriate for the 21st century. Because Bush has only four letters, I suggest Trump, as in ‘Oh my goodness, I hit another Trump.’ Hit two Trumps, and you’re fired.”
• “Oh, and while we’re at it, I believe the USGA should direct the U.S. Open to be played at one of my courses on a regular basis, say every five years. Think about it: We’ll sell 60,000 tickets a day and peddle hot dogs for $20 apiece. We will grow rich together. Oh, I fell victim to a senior moment – we’re already rich, both of us. Well, we’ll get richer.”
• “Dear Titleist, I believe you should switch the name of the Pro V1 to the Pro V Trump. Think about it: Two giants of international commerce come together for the good of the game. It will become second nature for golfers to say, ‘I’m going to beat up a Trump today.’ For this privilege, I will charge you a royalty of only $1 per ball.”
• “Dear Forrest Gump, I’m sure it has been called to your attention that your last name rhymes with mine. I would challenge you to a race or a shrimp-eating contest, but that wouldn’t be fair, would it? Let’s settle this on my turf. Whoever has the most complex hair style is declared the winner. Meanwhile, the loser has to change his name to Smith.
Or would you prefer Jones?”
• “Dear Callaway, I feel it is time to dump the name ‘Big Bertha’ and substitute ‘The Big Donald.’ Nothing could be more perfect than a big-headed driver named after the golfer with the biggest head in America. Why be modest? I deserve to have a big stick named after me. You know my motto: Drive for show if you’ve got lots of dough.”
Whew! Keeping up with The Donald is hard work. I need to go sit on my Trump. Er, rump.
By the way, the Tour de Rump is in its 19th year and still going strong.