The R&A has appeared to rule out Turnberry hosting the Open golf championship while it remains in the hands of Donald Trump – with its chief executive warning that they will not return to the Scottish course until they are “convinced that the focus will be on the championship”.
The news comes after Trump National in Bedminster was stripped of next year’s US PGA Championship with organisers insisting that using the course would be “detrimental” to their brand in the wake of the invasion of the US Capitol.
Last year the R&A said that Turnberry remained “absolutely in the pool of courses” to hold the Open, despite not staging the event since it was purchased by Trump in 2014. However, the R&A chief executive, Martin Slumbers, was much more circumspect on Monday, warning that he saw little chance of the event returning anytime soon – although he did not refer to the US president by name.
“We had no plans to stage any of our championships at Turnberry and will not do so in the foreseeable future,” said Slumbers in a statement. “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.”
Bedminster, located in New Jersey, had been awarded the US PGA in 2014, before Trump’s run for the presidency. It was the first time one of his courses had been chosen to host a men’s major although Bedminster hosted the women’s PGA in 2017.
“We find ourselves in a political situation not of our making,’’ said Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America. “We’re fiduciaries for our members, for the game, for our mission and for our brand. And how do we best protect that? Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave.”
The Trump Organization said it was disappointed with the decision. “This is a breach of a binding contract and they have no right to terminate the agreement,” a spokesperson said. “As an organisation we have invested many, many millions of dollars in the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster. We will continue to promote the game of golf on every level and remain focused on operating the finest golf courses anywhere in the world.”
Trump is facing impeachment in his final days in power after inciting a violent mob to invade the Capitol on Wednesday. He has regularly strayed into the world of sport during his presidency, attacking athletes who knelt during the national anthem in protest at racial injustice. On Sunday, it emerged he intends to award the presidential medal of freedom to the New England Patriots coach, Bill Belichick.