Donald Trump Has Put Golf In A Precarious Position

Already a polarizing figure before his golf courses started hosting some of the biggest events in professional golf, Donald Trump has forced the hand of many leading golf organizations during his run to garner the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

Acquiring real estate at well-known locales such as Turnberry in Scotland and Doral in Miami, among numerous others, Trump’s partnerships have largely been necessary and beneficial to some of the world’s most famous courses who were in trouble during golf’s recession. Yet, the shadow cast by the man who owns the venues have made these destinations “toxic” at worst and questionable at best to hold major events as far as some ruling organizations are concerned.

As Trump’s profile has reached a broader audience during his run for the presidency, so too have his outspoken statements followed a similar trajectory. In the aftermath of certain statements Trump has made on the campaign trail, organizations who stage these events on Trump properties have received urges to cut ties with the real estate magnate.

In the past few weeks, Trump’s crown jewel, Turnberry, has been ruled out of consideration to hold the Open Championship, according to a report in The Independent on Sunday.  

“(The R&A), golf’s governing body, headquartered in Scotland, privately decided that his reputation is now so toxic that the newly renamed Trump Turnberry can no longer host the game’s most prestigious tournament,” The Independent reported. 

Not just the Open, Trump International Golf Links near Aberdeen has been crossed off the list of possible Scottish Open venues, according to a report by The TelegraphThe European Tour drew its line in the sand with Trump by nixing his course from the Scottish Open list, but it will also have a say in the continued hosting of the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Trump Doral, while the PGA Tour’s stance on Trump has escalated beyond non-committal.

“We continue to stand by our earlier statement, and the statement of other golf organizations, that Mr. Trump’s comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf,” the PGA Tour said in a statement. “The PGA Tour has had a 53-year commitment to the Doral community, the greater Miami area and the charities that have benefited from the tournament. Given this commitment, we are moving forward with holding the 2016 event at the Blue Monster.

“Immediately after the completion of the 2016 tournament, we will explore all options regarding the event’s future.”

The slow and steady distancing of golf’s influential bodies from the leading candidate for the Republican nomination could cost Trump courses for years, and even decades, to come. Given golf’s tendency to name course venues years in advance, Trump’s candidacy and remarks could make him a difficult sell to sponsors and organizations not keen to enter into the political discourse.

The nature of the news cycle could bring Trump and therefore, his courses, back into the general public’s good graces as quickly as he moves from center stage. However, as the front-runner for the nomination, Trump will be in the spotlight at least through the primary election, perhaps through the general election and possibly for the next four or eight years, depending. 

For the courses he owns and for fans of those courses, neither may see high-level professional golf played on them for quite some time.