As he prepares to leave the office of R&A chief executive, Peter Dawson appears to have had a change of heart regarding Donald Trump's recent comments about immigrants, and what impact they might have on decisions about future Open Championship venues.
Dawson has been at the helm of the R&A for 17 years, and he announced last April that he would be stepping down. Friday marks his final day in office, and he will be succeeded by Martin Slumbers.
Trump's controversial comments about Mexican immigrants drew ire among the golf community this summer and led to the removal - and ultimate cancellation - of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which was originally slated for Trump National in Los Angeles. Trump has taken recent ownership of Turnberry, one of nine courses in the current Open Championship rotation, and was very visible during the Ricoh Women's British Open when it was staged on the Scottish links this summer.
Speaking to The Scotsman's Martin Dempster, Dawson bristled at the notion that Trump's comments in his bid for the presidency would at all impact decisions made by the R&A regarding future Open sites.
"To think that we are going to determine where an Open Championship is held because of something somebody said on the political trail in America is absurd," Dawson said. "I don't think that's going to happen. We have other priorities, but that's for a future committee to judge."
As Geoff Shackelford notes, Dawson's reaction to Trump's comments was far less pointed when he was asked about them this past July at the Open.
"Well it has had a lot of publicity, hasn't it," Dawson said. "We don't have any decisions to make about Turnberry for quite some time, and I think we'll just let a bit of time pass and future championship committees will deal with them at the time."
Turnberry has hosted the Open four times, most recently in 2009. Venues for future Opens have been determined through 2018, although the 2019 Open is expected to go to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.