Donald Trump is putting the R&A in “uncharted territory” as owner of one of the nine golf courses in The Open rotation, but Trump Turnberry remains in future consideration for hosting the event.
That was the word Monday from R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, who was pressed on Trump and Turnberry in a media conference call.
With Royal St. George’s Golf Club announced Monday as the 2020 host and with St. Andrews expected to host in 2021, Trump Turnberry wouldn’t have a chance to host until at least 2022.
“I said last year we were focused on Turnberry as a golf course and the way it is reigning on the rota and there has been nothing that has happened in the last year to change that,” Slumbers said. “Turnberry remains absolutely as one our nine golf courses.”
Slumbers said it would be another year before the ’22 host was seriously discussed.
“What we focus on at the Open Championship is making sure we have the success of The Open and the security of our players and our spectators,” Slumbers said.
Slumbers said Trump wouldn’t be the immediate focus of Turnberry’s consideration.
“We try to focus on making sure we are looking at the golf course,” he said. “We will deal with factors around that as and when it happens.”
Slumbers was pressed by media on whether Trump could become so divisive that the R&A would determine it did not want to be associated with him.
“It’s very important that we are clear about what our business is, which is making sure the Open Championship is one of the world’s greatest sporting events,” Slumbers said. “Staying out of politics and of opining on politics ... probably the best advice I can have is to stay clear of that.”
With 2022 the first available year that Trump Turnberry could host, there remains a possibility Trump could be host as a sitting president, if he’s elected to a second term.
“We are clearly in uncharted territory,” Slumbers said. “We have never had this in our game. Sitting presidents have attended U.S. Opens. We have not had a sitting president of the United States at an Open Championship. We’ve had royalty. Most people never know royalty are there, when they are there.”
Slumbers was asked if he would accept an invitation to play golf with Trump if he were asked.
“I’m probably not in the same country as him very often, but we are talking about the president of the United States,” Slumbers said. “With all senior people in the world, I think it is polite and respectful to listen to them and work with them. It is very important we work with the president if Turnberry did come back on. It would be foolhardy not to.”