More than two years have passed since President Donald Trump launched his successful bid for the Oval Office, but that hasn’t kept the real-estate-mogul-turned-politician from leaving his mark on the game of golf.
After Trump made a series of controversial comments about women during his campaign, many wanted the United States Golf Association to move the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open away from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, but the organisation steadfastly refused.
Now we know why: Trump reportedly threatened to sue the USGA over any attempt to select a new venue.
According to Christine Brennan of USA Today, USGA executive director Mike Davis informed his organisation’s executive committee of Trump’s threats while on a 2015 conference call. Brennan spoke to someone with direct knowledge of the meeting, who requested anonymity.
The source stated that Davis had recently met with Trump to discuss the U.S. Women’s Open, which will be held this week. Davis told the executive committee, “We can’t get out of this. He’s going to sue us,” according to the source.
Brennan reached out to Davis on Monday, but he had no comment. Davis later provided a statement to USA Today.
“As a matter of policy, the terms of our contracts with championship host sites are confidential and accordingly the USGA will not comment,” he said. “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.”
The anonymous source said that the threatened lawsuit was a precautionary move by Trump.
“More than anything, it was very preemptive, before the storm if he did get elected president,” the source told USA Today. “We were starting to get some pressure and so it was brought up and he said he would sue us if we moved it.”
The USGA has had to resist a groundswell of support for moving the event. After Trump’s lewd comments from a 2005 episode of Access Hollywood surfaced last fall, three Democratic senators requested that the USGA reconsider Bedminster as a venue. In March, a protest group secured more than a thousand signatures in support of the cause.
The U.S. Women’s Open wasn’t the first event to consider moving away from a Trump-owned track. A longtime owner of courses around the world, Trump was a titan of golf long before he was a titan of world affairs, but his turn to politics soured many of the game’s power brokers.
Two years ago, Trump sent a letter to LPGA commissioner Mike Whan daring him to move the Women’s British Open away from Trump Turnberry in Scotland. The event, while sanctioned by the LPGA, is actually run by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, which opted to keep the tournament in place.
A year later, he ripped the PGA Tour for moving the WGC-Cadillac Championship from Trump National Doral near Miami to Mexico’s Club de Golf Chapultepec, saying, “I hope they have kidnapping insurance.”
As scheduled, the U.S. Women’s Open will commence on Thursday at Trump National Golf Club. Whether or not Trump will be on site is unknown.