January 13, 2021
(Reuters) – Donald Trump was handed a stinging rebuke by the world of professional golf, with the PGA of America and the R&A both announcing they would shun two courses owned by the President in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
Trump exhorted thousands of supporters to march on the Capitol last Wednesday as Congress met to certify his defeat to Joe Biden, prompting chaos in which crowds breached the building and forced the evacuation of both chambers.
Five people, including a police officer, died as a result of the rampage.
The PGA of America said late on Sunday it was stripping Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, of the 2022 PGA Championship, one of four prestigious majors on the annual golf calendar, following a vote by its board of directors.
“It has become clear that conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand,” PGA of America President Jim Richerson said in a video announcing the decision.
Golf governing body the R&A followed suit on Monday, saying it would not stage championships at the Trump-owned Turnberry golf course for the foreseeable future.
“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,” R&A CEO Martin Slumbers said in a statement.
Turnberry, in South Ayrshire, Scotland, has hosted the Open Championship on four previous occasions, most recently in 2009. Trump bought the property in 2014.
A representative for the Trump Organization, which owns or operates more than a dozen golf courses around the world, said they were “incredibly disappointed” with the PGA of America’s decision.
“We have had a beautiful partnership with the PGA of America … This is a breach of a binding contract and they have no right to terminate the agreement,” the representative said.
“As an organisation we have invested many millions of dollars in the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster.
“We will continue to promote the game of golf on every level and remain focused on operating the finest golf courses anywhere in the world.”
The decision could be a blow to Trump, an avid golfer who has played with several current and former professional golfers, including all-time greats Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, and long desired to host a major at one of his courses.
It is also not the first time the PGA of America, which operates separately from the PGA Tour, distanced itself from Trump. In 2015, the organization pulled an event from Trump’s course in Los Angeles after he made disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants.
Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco, said the latest decisions by the PGA of America and R&A would indeed hurt Trump, whose golf courses are the jewels in his self-branded business empire.
“First, it’s a financial blow; hosting a major brings in significant revenue and valuable media exposure to a course, making it a more desirable and prestigious destination for golfers,” Dorfman told Reuters.
“Second, it’s a huge ego blow; as a massive golf fan and owner of what he considers world-class venues, Trump loses bragging rights, the opportunity to rub elbows with big-name pros, and the chance for primetime facetime with his minions.”
A day after the assault on the U.S. Capitol, Trump turned his attention to golf as he awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to golfers Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam and the late Babe Didrikson Zaharias.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, Rory Carroll in Los Angeles and Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar and Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Rutherford, Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)