Many wondered why the USGA didn’t move the U.S. Women’s Open from Donald Trump’s Trump National Golf Club. If reports are to be believed, we now have our answer.
Initially, public questioning centered around the conflict of interest that would arise for then-candidate Trump to enrich himself should the country’s national Open be held at a one of his golf course properties.
Calls for the organization to find a new venue intensified in the wake of the October 2016 release of Access Hollywood video in which Trump boasted about his ability to grope women without consequence, and a number of women came forward alleging he had done just that.
Publicly, the USGA has remained steadfast in their commitment to hosting the most significant tournament in women’s golf at Trump Bedminster. Privately, though, it’s been a very different story, per Christine Brennan of USA Today.
A person with direct knowledge of the situation says USGA executive director Mike Davis discussed moving the tournament after news of Trump’s impending presidential run broke in 2015. Trump threatened to sue the USGA when he caught wind of the plan, however, although it’s unclear on exactly what grounds.
“We can’t get out of this. He’s going to sue us,” Davis allegedly told the USGA’s executive committee at the time. Publicly, however, Davis and company haven’t wavered. At the tournament’s media day, Davis said.
“Let me make it very clear that we came here, this was all about coming to a great golf course to play the greatest championship in women’s golf. You know, the USGA since its founding in 1894 has never been involved with politics. Our focus is solely on the game of golf, and we appreciate that there’s some out there that want to make this a political event, but we’re not.”
This, of course, flies in the face of Davis’ understanding of the politicized nature of the event and his own reported desire to move the tournament. But what else is he going to say? After the decision to capitulate, there was little for the organization to gain by mentioning the desire to move the tournament publicly.
Golf Digest got in touch with the USGA issued who issued this predictable statement.
“As a matter of policy, the terms of our contracts with championship host sites are confidential and accordingly the USGA will not comment. We are excited that our U.S. Women’s Open Championship week has begun and are focused on providing the ultimate test of golf for the best female players in the world.”
Good thing for that “policy,” lest y’all would be in a really awkward position! Whether the USGA should have moved the tournament or not, the suggestion of hypocrisy this report inserts into the discourse isn’t what the beleaguered organization needs.
For the President’s part, it’s difficult to think this revelation will do any damage. Not surprisingly, the Trump organization has declined to comment on the report.