Remember how activist Martha Burk’s protest of Augusta National’s all-male membership policy turned into a circus sideshow a few blocks from the club’s gates in 2003?
Remember the Elvis impersonator, the “One-Man Ku Klux Klan” and the “Georgina Z. Bush” character in clown makeup and circus drag who came to disrupt Burk’s protest outside the Masters?
If you’re a women’s golf fan, you’ve got to be worried that a big top’s coming to the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump Bedminster this summer.
You’ve got to be concerned that the brief protest that fizzled outside the front gate of the Bank of Hope Founders Cup on Saturday will grow into something larger, more sustained and unrelenting in the four months that lead up to most important competition in the women’s game.
You’ve got to know that the women’s group UltraViolet and Martha Burk’s National Council of Women are only going to intensify their protest of President Donald Trump as host of an important women’s golf championship.
A scene from the 2003 Masters protest coordinated by Martha Burk (Getty)
Women’s golf can’t win as the epicenter in this clash between President Trump and women’s activists.
If LPGA pros play at Bedminster, they’ll be depicted as “good girls afraid to cross the guys,” as Burk has already said of them. They’ll be cast as sellouts, placing their self-interest above larger women’s rights issues.
And if LPGA pros boycott ... Well, that’s not going to happen.
They aren’t going to cut off their noses to spite their faces.
That’s how the majority of LPGA pros see that option.
They aren’t going to damage an event that does more for their advancement than any other event in the game. They aren’t going to hurt an organization that has done more to open doors for them in a sport where too many doors still remain closed to them. They aren’t going to cripple an institution that is so devoted to empowering them with opportunities.
UltraViolet and Martha Burk can intensify the pressure all they want, but the U.S. Women’s Open is going to be played at Trump Bedminster.
There appears to be an unavoidable clash coming, with no middle ground or compromise to be hashed out. So the question that looms isn’t whether the most important competition in women’s golf will in some way be diminished as a sideshow by the debate that is going to mushroom around it this summer. The question is how much of a sideshow will the competition become.
And how many clowns are going to show up this time.