LOS ANGELES. — As much as President Donald Trump loves golf, leaders of the sport are racing away from the embattled United States leader for what they say is the good for the game.
The PGA of America stripped the 2022 PGA Championship from Trump National at Bedminster, New Jersey, on Sunday, days after Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol. PGA of America chief executive officer Seth Waugh says associating with Trump would be harmful for the organisation’s brand and its mission to grow and support the sport.
“It became clear to us that our brand was at stake,” Waugh told The Golf Channel on Monday. “We thought we were putting at risk that mission if we were to hold the tournament at Trump Bedminster.” The R&A, global golf’s governing body, said on Monday that Trump Turnberry, a past regular stop for the British Open, was not in current plans for the championship.
“We had no plans to stage any of our championships at Turnberry and will not do so in the foreseeable future,” the R&A said in a statement.
“We will not return until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself and we do not believe that is achievable in the current circumstances.”
Trump Bedminster hosted the 2017 US Women’s Open, the US Golf Association pressing ahead despite protesters outside the club. It was awarded the 2022 PGA in 2014 by the PGA of America, which called removing the event a business decision rather than a political one.
“Right now in the country almost anybody views any decision being made as political,” PGA of America president Jim Richerson told Golf Channel.
“We tried to take politics out of it and just get back and focus on our brand and what’s best for the game of golf. We all believe it was the right decision.”
Trump’s trademark love of golf includes ownership of at least 17 worldwide golf properties and hundreds of rounds played during his presidency.
At the 2017 Presidents Cup, Trump became the first sitting President to award the trophy after a 19-11 US victory at Liberty National in New Jersey.
Trump has played alongside such stars as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who gave lukewarm support after rounds.
“Well, he’s the president of the United States. You have to respect the office,” Woods said in 2018. “You may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”
Woods, a 15-time major winner, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Trump in 2019. — AFP.