Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach becomes the new residence of Donald Trump following the end of his term as President. However, other golf courses across America and the world, as part of the Trump Organisation, have become subject to the political implications of the former President’s second impeachment.
Following the storming of the Capitol on the 6th January, which led to the charge of Trump for “incitement of insurrection”, the PGA announced that the 2022 PGA Championship will not be played at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster in New Jersey.
Other golf organisations have followed suit as the UK equivalent, R&A, have said in a statement that Turnberry, Trump’s Scottish golf course, will be ruled out of hosting the 2022 Open Championship. The sporting world has accompanied corporate groups such as Twitter, who banned the former President from their site following tweets where he appeared to incite violence from the mob.
The PGA and R&A have given similar reasons for their decision to not hold major golfing tournaments at Bedminster and Turnberry. They believe that the focus of the events would not be on the golf itself and rather the political image the tournaments portray to the rest of the world.
PGA President, Jim Richerson, spoke on behalf of the PGA of America Board of Directors in a statement where he said that “conducting the PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster would be detrimental the PGA of America brand, it would put at risk the PGA’s ability to deliver our many programs, and sustain the longevity of our mission”. In a similar fashion, the R&A has said that the Open will not return to Turnberry until they are ‘convinced that the focus will be on the championship.’
The unfolding of the events regarding these major golfing tournaments has crystallised the notion that the sporting world has entered the political realm, particularly when political figures are so often influential in financial ownership of clubs and venues.
Within America, the polarisation of politics makes it difficult, in this case, for sporting organisations to make politically neutral decisions. In this instance, the R&A and PGA have taken action to prevent the politicisation of a sporting event that is usually at such a remove from the complex nature of the American political sphere.
The Trump Organization have released a statement that the decision to pull the course from the PGA Championship “is a breach of a binding contract and they have no right to terminate the agreement.”
The breaching of a ‘binding contract’ by PGA America highlights how sport cannot operate outside of the political sphere. If actions were not taken it would be feared that Trump would gain a platform to appeal to the faction of his supporters who stormed the Capitol and this is something that PGA America and the R&A simply cannot risk.
Whilst the sporting world makes clear attempts in making respective sports politically neutral, there is a clear encroachment of politics into this space and action must be taken by organisations to protect their sports from being politically influential and therefore hindering the progress within the sport itself.
The 2022 PGA Championship will now be played on the Southern Hills course in Tulsa, Oklahoma whilst the 150th Open Championship 2022 will be played on The Old Golf Course in St. Andrews.
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