(Editor's note: GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 newsmakers of 2016. Take a look at why each item made our list, along with a collection of their top stories from the year. Click here for the full list and release dates.)
Donald Trump is about to become arguably the most powerful man on earth, but what will that mean to the sport he is so invested in?
After being sworn in as President of the United States in January, Trump will wield enormous influence in so many matters of public policy and private business. He will occupy a platform that promises to raise golf’s profile, given his history with the sport and his love of the game.
But will that be good for golf? Trump’s critics don’t think so.
A headline from the Washington Post’s editorial page (Nov. 3): “Don’t like Trump’s piggish prejudice? Blame the world of golf: Sexism, racism and undocumented workers thrive on the green.”
From the pages of USA Today (Nov. 16): “A national championship hosted by the President of the United States? Isn’t that the stuff of our dreams? Actually, with this man, it’s more like a nightmare.”
From the Huffington Post (July 8): “Once again, the USGA puts profit over principle. And where’s the LPGA? Silent as usual, even though the Donald has disparaged women regularly, calling them bimbos, dogs, fat pigs and crazy. Nothing new here – the good girls of golf have always been afraid to cross the guys.”
Donald Trump is passionate about golf. He’s a 3 handicap, a club champion at more than one venue. He owns 17 world class golf destinations, including Trump Doral, Trump Turnberry and Trump Doonbeg. He was host to one of the PGA Tour’s World Golf Championships at Doral, though he’s losing that next year, and he was once host to a highly successful LPGA event in West Palm Beach, Fla., which paid out the top winner’s check in the women’s game.
LPGA veteran Natalie Gulbis spoke in support of Trump at the Republican National Convention in July. Two-time major championship winner Cristie Kerr backs Trump as a great supporter of the women’s game.
But Trump’s misogynistic comments about women, his “killers and rapists” comments about Mexican and other immigrants and his campaign call for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” have led critics to make unflattering connections between Trump and the culture of golf.
“Golf, at its worst, is Donald Trump,” Michael Peppard wrote in the Washington Post last month.
Golf’s ruling bodies continued to find themselves in uncomfortable positions in their partnerships with Trump over this past year.
Through the year, pressure mounted on the USGA to move the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open away from Trump Bedminster in New Jersey, even after the USGA announced this summer that it continues to plan to stage the event there.
“During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has made some remarks that are at odds with our belief that golf should be welcoming and inclusive for all,” the USGA said in a statement in July. “We have reiterated that we do not share his views, and that is still true.
“It is important to note that Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster, has fully complied with our standing anti-discriminatory member policy, which we will continue to require of all championship sites.”
Trump was host to a major championship in women’s golf in 2015, with the Ricoh Women’s British Open played at Trump Turnberry in Scotland. It was a large success, with women appreciative of the chance to play another classic venue in the men’s rotation. His Trump Bedminster club in New Jersey is scheduled to host the U.S. Women’s Open next year and also to host the PGA Championship in 2022. Trump National in Potomac Falls, Va., is scheduled to host the Senior PGA Championship next year.
This fall, three U.S. senators sent a joint letter to the USGA urging the governing body to move the U.S. Women’s Open away from Trump Bedminster, citing Trump for a “pattern of degrading and dehumanizing women.”
Earlier this year, Jeffrey Sammons, Cedrick Smith and Calvin Sinnette publicly renounced their relationships with the USGA in protest of the governing body’s partnership with Trump. They were all involved in African-American historical golf projects at the USGA museum.
Back in June, the PGA Tour made public its plans to move its World Golf Championship out of Trump Doral. Ironically, the Tour announced it was moving the event to Mexico City. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said it was “fundamentally a sponsorship issue.”
Trump called it a “sad day” and said “the PGA Tour has put profit ahead of thousands of American jobs, millions of dollars in revenues for local communities ... This decision only further embodies the very reason I am running for President of the United States.”
Golf waits to see what Trump will mean to the sport once he’s in office.
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