Sunday, February 25, 2024

Capitol seat puts Trump to the test with golf world

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Over the course of four tumultuous years, Donald Trump has often sought refuge at one of his golf clubs, where distant pool photographers have zoomed in to capture his tee shots.

An avid golfer and golf entrepreneur, Mr. Trump has long sought approval for the establishment of the game. He was duly rewarded when the game’s governing authorities exploited his courses for prestigious tournaments.

That kinship was shattered last week when the PGA of America announced it would be pulling its flagship tournament, the PGA Championship 2022, from Trump Bedminster, New Jersey, one of 19 courses in the portfolio. Trump stretching on both sides of the Atlantic.

“It had become clear that driving the PGA Championship to Trump Bedminster would be detrimental to the PGA of America brand,” the group said in a statement. video statement.

In the wake of the President’s siege on Capitol Hill, a golfing world long burdened with a legacy of exclusion and elitism could no longer ignore Mr. Trump’s transgressions.

Mr Trump had aggressively gobbled up struggling lands and ranges after the financial crisis left the golf industry in shock, including the Doral complex in Miami, in hopes of revitalizing them as the economy grew. ‘improved.

The investment paid off in 2014, the year before Mr. Trump announced his presidential candidacy, when he won the 2022 PGA Championship. “To have the PGA is a very, very big deal.” , does he have said at the time. “It is very important for me.”

Around this time, Mr. Trump’s hometown of New York City granted the Trump Organization the rights to run a new high-end course. in the Bronx which would be called Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point. Appearing at Opening of Ferry Point at the end of 2013 were then mayor Michael Bloomberg and course designer, golf legend Jack Nicklaus. This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would end its relationship with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump’s humiliating comments about women, immigrants and Muslims, among others, have created heat for the conservative world of golf. In 2015, a PGA of America sponsored exhibition tournament held at the Trump Resort near Los Angeles was canceled following Mr. Trump’s derisory comments about Mexican immigrants. The PGA Tour in 2017 moved a long-held annual tournament in Doral to a course in Mexico City, as Mr. Trump’s association with the legendary course seemed spook sponsors.

Yet despite protests from women’s groups, the United States Golf Association hosted its first women’s championship in Bedminster in 2017.

“We decide where to play based on purely golf-related factors, not who the president is and anyone’s personal politics.”, THE USGA says the FT at the time.

But since he became president, no elite tournament has selected a Trump property as a venue. Mr Trump’s acclaimed links to Turnberry, Scotland, the site of several previous open championships, have been ignored by the R&A, the UK’s governing body. This week, the R&A said in a statement that it did not intend to back to Turnberry “For the foreseeable future”, alluding to the stigma against the US president.

It remains to be seen how damaging Mr. Trump’s now tarnished brand is to his hotel empire.

Trump Doral, the group’s top-grossing golf property, reported $ 77.2 million in 2019, up slightly from $ 76.0 million the year before, according to its financials. Data from New York shows that rounds at the municipal course run by the Trump Organization increased to 26,000 in 2019 from 22,000 the year before.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Trump’s close association with golf came just as the sport is trying to attract younger and more diverse participants, with all major governing bodies having attempts to raise awareness.

“It’s not only that golf is politically conservative, but there is a lack of cultural diversity that contributes to its sensitivity,” says Bradley Klein, a golf historian who worked with architects who designed Trump courses . “There is a feeling in the golf world that Trump sometimes does too much but has generally been good.”

Tiger Woods listens as Donald Trump speaks at a Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 6, 2019 © AFP via Getty Images

While the stars of the sport of basketball and American football have openly argued with Mr. Trump, top professional golfers, like Tiger Woods, have enthusiastically played with the president.

For this reason, many believe that the golf firmament, while remaining sensitive to corporate sponsors, will remain sympathetic to Trump.

Jim Herman, a late-flowering PGA Tour pro, started his career working at Trump Bedminster’s clubhouse. After winning an event in 2019, he written on twitter: “I can’t thank the Trump family [enough], and all the members and employees of Bedminster for their assistance over the past two decades.

In September, rising star Bryson DeChambeau celebrated its US Open triumph on a Trump course in suburban New York with Eric Trump, the son of Mr. Trump who helps run the family golf business.

Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach has put him in close proximity to several golf stars who have congregated in the area, including Mr. Woods, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, with whom the president has all play. Mr. McIlroy said in 2020 that he subsequently refused to play with Mr. Trump.

Mr Trump awarded Mr Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2019, an honor the President bestowed on two other legendary players, Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player, who had private ceremonies in the immediate aftermath of the riot January 6 at the US Capitol.

Mr. Nicklaus, golf’s most famous champion, in October announced on Twitter that he voted for Mr. Trump because he had “kept his promises” and “worked for the average person.”

One great long-time golf player noted that the PGA of America, which represents the club’s nearly 30,000 professionals, remains predominantly white and male, a demographic that has always supported Mr. Trump.

“The golf establishment will stay low for a few months or maybe years depending on how the impeachment goes,” he said. “But at the end of the day, that would never kick someone out of the fellowship.”


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