The USGA has a problem.
The 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, arguably the crown jewel of women’s golf, is slated to be contested at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., less than nine months from now. And the club’s owner, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, is under fire for comments and alleged behavior that have seen him branded by political opponents as a sexist at best and a sexual predator at worst.
On Tuesday, three U.S. Senators became the latest individuals to call on the USGA to move the tournament. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.) signed a letter addressed to USGA Executive Director Mike Davis, USA Today reported.
“The decision that the USGA makes is more consequential than simply the geographic location of a golf tournament,” the letter read. “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.”
Although one can argue that politicians have more pressing matters to worry about than those in the sporting domain, it’s hard to deny the bad optics that this situation creates for golf. And although some LPGA players have lauded Trump for his support of women’s golf, the USGA would be insulting these world-class female athletes by staging one of their major championships at a course owned by a man who has shown a stunning lack of respect for women, despite his frequent (and increasingly comical) assertions to the contrary.
The USGA thus far has remained mum on its intentions regarding the tournament. And it’s fair to assume its leaders won’t make public any decisions until the election is over.
But I have to believe that there are at least a few clubs with championship-caliber courses that would be willing to host the tournament on short notice. By washing its hands of Trump, the USGA would be doing the game, and the world’s finest women golfers, a great service.