On issues involving societal change, golf tends to be much closer to the caboose than the engine.
Gone are the days when many private clubs were restricted to members of a certain ethnicity, but even now there are clubhouses with men’s lounges and other such holdovers from days when no one gave much thought to equality. Golf has never been accused of being too inclusive.
So there’s no small bit of irony in the fact that it is golf that could deliver society a great deal of good these days: by getting Donald Trump to finally shut his hateful mouth.
Trump, of course, is officially running to become president of the United States. He also seems to be unofficially aiming to become the world’s most obnoxious pariah and, it must be said, is doing a fine job at both.
As he has said ever more outrageous things, and responded to criticism of such things with ever more spiteful denigration of his critics, Trump has maintained that he doesn’t need the support of those he dismisses: the media, polite society, even a war hero like John McCain. (Remember when everyone thought Trump’s comments about McCain would end his campaign? Such innocent times.) Being a billionaire means you can tell a lot of people to get stuffed, it would seem.
But golf has a lot of things that Trump wants. And it is starting to look like golf has had just about enough of him. On Sunday, The Independent reported that the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, golf’s governing body in the United Kingdom, had decided against holding the Open Championship at Turnberry resort, which Trump bought last year and, of course, renamed Trump Turnberry. The man would rename the home of the Old Course to St. Trump if he had the chance.
The Independent, citing unnamed R&A insiders, said it was planning to endorse Turnberry for the 2020 Open Championship, but decided that Trump’s remarkable string of toxic statements, culminating in a call to ban Muslims from entering the United States until authorities “can figure out what’s going on” meant they were no longer interested in having him associated with golf’s oldest major championship. Turnberry has hosted four modern Opens, including the famous Duel in the Sun between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson in 1977. Stewart Cink won the last Open there, in 2009, sneaking past a 59-year-old Watson.
While the decision to keep Trump away from the claret jug was being taken in Scotland, the PGA Tour said on the weekend that it had similar misgivings about its relationship with Trump. It said it would look to move the high-profile Cadillac Championship, one of four annual World Golf Championship events, from his Doral resort after this coming season. The Tour said in a statement that it would keep the 2016 tournament at the Miami-area course — logistics would have made it difficult to relocate on short notice anyway — but that immediately following its completion “we will explore all options regarding the event’s future.” It said Trump’s comments are “inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.”
You don’t say. And, since Trump seems to be wholly incapable of ever walking back a comment, or conceding that he has ever said anything that maybe deserves a second thought, it’s unlikely he’s going to embark on a fence-mending exhibition now that the golf world has its back up.
But this is definitely something that could hit him where it hurts — in his ego. Whatever happens in his bid for the White House, Trump will eventually return to being a private citizen. He clearly revels in having the golf world turn up at his door. Just last year, he posed all smiles next to the Wanamaker Trophy as the PGA of America announced that it had awarded the 2022 PGA Championship to the Trump National course in New Jersey and the 2017 Senior PGA Championship to the Trump course near Washington, D.C. Trump said it was a “great honour” to be associated with the PGA of America, “an organization which I have long respected.” One wonders what he will say if it, too, has second thoughts about partnering with a man who probably isn’t done saying inflammatory things in his presidential run.
Golf, more than many sports, has strong ties to Persian Gulf nations, with oil wealth providing not just sponsorship money but venues for key events. The European Tour’s season-ending series is called the Race to Dubai. It’s not an industry that will take lightly Trump casually talking about Western countries having a “massive Muslim problem,” as he did late last week.
Though Trump’s comments haven’t appeared to have hurt him in his pursuit of the Republican nomination — and might have, shudder, helped — a fallout that affects other areas of his business might just give him pause. Might, I say. Just maybe.
Probably not. But it would be nice to see golf try.
Source: nationalpost golf news