The vote comes four days after the Trump-fueled riot on the U.S. Capitol on January 6 as Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory. This is the second time in just over five years that the PGA of America has pulled one of its events out of a Trump course. PGA President Jim Richerson said the board voted to exercise its right to “terminate the deal” with Trump National in Bedminster, NJ
“We are in a political situation that is beyond our control,” said Seth Waugh, CEO of the PGA of America, in a telephone interview. “We are trustees for our members, for the game, for our mission and for our brand. And how can we better protect that?
“Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it in Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave. ”
The PGA of America, which has some 29,000 golf professionals who primarily teach the game, signed the deal with Trump National in 2014.
He called off the 2015 PGA Golf Grand Slam at Trump National Los Angeles Golf Club after Trump’s derogatory remarks about Mexican immigrants when he announced he was seeking nomination as Republican president. The event was canceled for good the following spring.
Wednesday’s shocking insurgency rocked the United States and attention quickly shifted in golf circles to whether the PGA of America would retain its debut championship – and one of the top four championships golf course – on Trump’s course in 2022.
“Our decision wasn’t about speed and timing,” said Waugh. “What matters most to our board and management is protecting our brand and reputation, and the ability of our members to lead the growth of the game, which they do with so many powerful programs in their communities. ”
Trump gave a speech to his supporters in which he repeatedly claimed unfounded that the election was stolen from him and urged them to “fight”.
They stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers certify Biden’s victory. After forcing their way inside, the violent mob ransacked the building and sent terrified staff and lawmakers into hiding. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, have died.
A new ABC News / Ipsos poll released on Sunday found that 67% of those polled said Trump deserved a “good amount” or “a lot” of blame for the insurgency.
“It’s not because of the pressures we feel. We don’t have to make a decision, ”Waugh said. “We had to make a business decision. It is a perpetual institution. My job is to convey it better than when I found it. A hundred years from now, we still want to be dynamic. ”
He chose not to comment when asked if he expected a legal challenge from the Trump organization.
Trump’s presence hinders sponsors
The PGA of America, which operates separately from the PGA Tour and its week-to-week tournaments, previously hosted the PGA Senior Championship at Trump’s course outside of Washington in 2017. It was the same year as the USGA hosted the US Women’s Open at Trump National in Bedminster.
Trump also owns Turnberry in Scotland, one of the most picturesque ties in the British Open rotation most famous for the ‘Duel in Sun’ between Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus in 1977, and most recently Henrik Stenson defeating Phil Mickelson in 2016. The R&A, which determines the rotation of the British Open, has not returned to Turnberry since Trump took over.
He also owns Trump Doral outside of Miami, for years a venerable stop on the PGA Tour calendar and most recently a world championship golf venue. Trump’s presence made it difficult to find a corporate sponsor, and the tournament moved to Mexico in 2017.
Waugh said the PGA of America already has a team in place in New Jersey to start selling the events to the public and local sponsorship. Now it is a matter of finding a place to play the PGA Championship, which dates back to 1916, for next year.
The PGA is on Kiawah Island in South Carolina in May.
“We’ve already had a number of places to reach,” he said. “We think we’ll have a bunch of options. ”