Opinion: PGA of America made right decision to disassociate itself from Donald Trump, more involved in golf should follow

The PGA of America has made the right choice in distancing itself from a president whose actions and words incited one of the ugliest days in our country’s history.

Now it is time for those who play the sport that organization promotes and supports also to condemn those acts by outgoing President Donald Trump that led to the United States Capitol being stormed last Wednesday and five people dying, including a law enforcement officer who was beaten by the mob.

The board of directors of the PGA of America, which is headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, announced late Sunday it is moving the 2022 PGA Championship out of Trump’s property in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Jim Richerson, PGA of America president, said in a statement that hosting the PGA Championship would be “detrimental to the PGA of America brand and would put at risk the PGA’s ability to deliver on many programs and sustain the longevity of our mission.”

Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, spoke to the Associated Press. “The damage could have been irreparable,” he said. “The only course of action was to leave.”

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization told ABC News the decision is “a breach of a binding contract and they have no right to terminate the agreement.”

The tournament was to be the first men’s major played on a Trump property. But after watching Trump supporters inspired by the president and his close advisors invade the Capitol, the PGA of America made its decision. The rioters were attempting to physically harm lawmakers voting to certify the election in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump received another rebuke Monday when Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said the organization had no plans to stage any championships at Trump’s Turnberry property in Scotland, and will not do so in the foreseeable future.

“We will not return until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself and we do not believe that is achievable in the current circumstances,” he said in a statement.

The New York Times reported in July that Trump reportedly instructed his British ambassador to work on making sure Turnberry would host a British Open.

Trump already had his moment at Bedminster in 2017 when the U.S. Women’s Open was held at the venue. The United States Golf Association received backlash for not moving the tournament after Trump had made repeated disparaging remarks about women.

Jul 14, 2017; Bedminster, NJ, USA; United States president Donald Trump waves to fans during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at Trump National Golf Club-New Jersey. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

United States president Donald Trump waves to fans during the second round of the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Trump National Doral outside of Miami lost a World Golf Championship event following the 2016 tournament. The Tour claims it was moved because of losing its main sponsor. The event was moved to Mexico City. During his campaign, Trump made disparaging remarks about people from Mexico saying “they’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Trump is an avid golfer whose Trump Organization owns 17 courses worldwide, 12 in the United States, including Trump National Golf Club properties in Jupiter and West Palm Beach, located about five miles from his residence on Palm Beach. Reports have him playing golf as many as 340 days during his presidency, many of those at his property in West Palm Beach and at times with local golf legends past and present, including at least three times with Tiger Woods.

He enjoys the support from the golf world more so than any other group of athletes in the world, many of whom have publicly shown their loyalty. During his one term, Trump has awarded the Medal of Freedom to four golfers, Woods in 2017; Annika Sorenstam, Gary Player and the late Babe Didrikson Zaharias on Thursday, the day after the insurrection at the Capitol.

Sorenstam and Player rightfully received backlash for appearing at the White House about 24 hours after the Capitol was desecrated. Marc Player, Gary’s son, criticized his father for accepting the medal.

“I wish my father would simply & politely decline this ‘award’ at this time. Tone deaf. In denial. Wrong!!” Marc Player tweeted.

The PGA of America does not serve golf’s rich and famous. Rather, it represents the rank and file of about 28,000 club professionals. The organization runs the PGA Championship, Women’s PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship and Ryder Cup when played in the United States.

Now is the time for those in the golf world to get in line with the PGA of America and disassociate themselves from a soon-to-be-former president. These supporters had no problem endorsing the president in his recent failed bid for a second term. It is time to condemn, at the minimum, his actions as he exits the White House and returns to Mar-a-Lago.

Many of these supporters have run in the same circles as Trump for years and call him a friend. All making a clean break is unlikely. But when his rhetoric over debunked claims of a fraudulent and rigged election emboldens his base to break the law by storming the Capitol in an attempt to attack lawmakers, condemning those actions – just as many of his allies in Washington have done since Wednesday – should not be difficult.

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