It’s hard to believe that the United States Golf Association is still planning to hold one of its signature events — the U.S. Women’s Open — at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey, next summer.
The USGA’s annual celebration of women and golf is still scheduled for July 13-16 at a golf course owned by Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate who has been in the middle of swirling controversies over his attitude toward women, capped by the release of a 2005 video in which he bragged about actions that many believe amount to sexual assault.
Trump has apologized for the remarks, attributing them to locker room talk. Since then, several women have alleged that Trump made inappropriate advances toward them. Trump and his campaign have branded them as lies.
Despite all of this, the USGA still plans to hold the Women’s Open at a Trump course. How can this be?
A USGA spokesman said the organization declined to comment. When asked if the USGA is considering moving the event, he did send a previous statement, issued in July in conjunction with the LPGA and PGA Tour.
“During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has made some remarks that are at odds with our belief that golf should be welcoming and inclusive for all. We have reiterated for more than a year that we do not share his views, and that is still true,” it read. “With the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open less than a year away, our focus is still on conducting an excellent championship for the players, the spectators, the fans, and the volunteers.”
An excellent championship? The decision to have this country’s most important golfing event for women at a Trump course seems as surreal as a Saturday Night Live skit to more than just me.
“Holding the U.S. Open at Trump National is just so outrageous and inappropriate,” said New York University history professor Jeffrey Sammons.
Sammons once was on the USGA’s Museum and Library committee and served as an unofficial diversity adviser to the PGA of America. He said he quit over the birther issue — Trump’s questioning of President Barack Obama’s citizenship — and is one of the founding members of Golfers Opposing Bigotry. The group has been pressuring the USGA to sever all ties with Trump, who has insulted a wide range of people of various religions and ethnicities.
It’s shocking that Trump actually has support among some golfers. Former U.S. Women’s Open champion Cristie Kerr, who is a friend of Trump’s, is one of a majority of players who support him, according to Golfweek magazine. Kerr believes Trump should be forgiven, saying, “Nobody treats the LPGA better than Donald.”
England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff was the one player who disagreed and would like the event to be moved, even if it means going to a lesser venue. “On principle,” she said, “I feel it’s just not right.”
The Women’s U.S. Open isn’t the only event scheduled to be played on one of those courses. The Senior PGA Championship is to be held at Trump National in Potomac Falls, Virginia, in May and the PGA Championship is scheduled for Trump National in 2022.
Trump is not associated with any courses on Long Island. Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point Park is a public course in the Bronx.
“Golf should not be engaging with him, supporting him materially or giving him anything in terms of prestige,” Sammons said.
It wouldn’t be easy to reschedule an event nine months before it is held, but it wouldn’t be impossible, either. Witness what the NBA, and commissioner Adam Silver, did in July when it decided to move this season’s All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, because of the state’s House Bill 2 law, which limits anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The cancellation came seven months before the game was scheduled to be held.
“While we recognize that the NBA cannot choose the law in every city, state and country in which we do business, we do not believe we can successfully host our All-Star festivities in Charlotte in the climate created by HB2,” Silver said at the time.
In other words, the NBA not only did the right thing but made a smart business move. They did not want to deal with sponsors and fans dropping out of the game because they wouldn’t be associated with HB2. And it’s hard to fathom that golf isn’t worried about the same thing.
Do corporate sponsors want their brand to be associated with someone who has made comments found to be offensive by the very audience that will be watching their commercials? Do they think women will be inspired to buy products associated with the Trump brand?
I certainly won’t. And I’m not alone.