The U.S. Women’s Open tees off this week at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and as with so many other matters involving the 45th president, there’s controversy swirling.
The choice of President Donald Trump’s golf club to host one of the premier women’s tournaments in the world now comes freighted with plenty of non-political controversy, given Trump’s many on-record sexist comments. The United States Golf Association knew of the controversy years in advance, but according to a new USA Today report, did not move the tournament because of the threat of a lawsuit from Trump.
“We can’t get out of this,” USGA executive director Mike Davis told the organization’s executive committee two years ago, according to a USA Today source. “He’s going to sue us.” Davis made the comments around the time Trump was preparing his run for president.
Davis declined comment to USA Today on whether or not he made the statement in question. “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 in a statement. “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.”
Trump’s club won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2012, but the venue didn’t draw notice until Trump became a politically polarizing figure and his many enterprises came under increased scrutiny. Three U.S. senators wrote the USGA a letter in October 2016, around the time of a graphic “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump boasted of sexual assault, urging it to change the location of the tournament.
“The decision that the USGA makes is more consequential than simply the geographic location of a golf tournament,” Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Edward Markey (D-MA) wrote. “In declining future association with a brand that degrades women, the USGA and LPGA have an opportunity to make clear to the world, and most especially young Americans, that our nation will not tolerate nor do business with any company that condones or excuses action that constitutes sexual assault.”
Trump has already lost one significant golf event; the PGA Tour moved its WGC-Cadillac Championship from Trump’s Doral resort in South Florida to Mexico City. The Tour denied at the time that Trump’s political rhetoric was the reason for the departure, instead pointing to sponsor defections as the reasons for the move.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.