Golf under fire like never before and it’s down to one man – Trump

Bernie McGuire

Jack Nicklaus and Donald Trump at the unveiling of the Jack Nicklaus Villa at Trump Doral (Photo by Manny Hernandez/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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We’re only nine days into a New Year and the great game of golf is under attack like never before and it’s down to just one individual – U.S. President Donald Trump.

Also caught-up in the backlash of the scenes last Wednesday in the American capital are two of the greats of the game in Annika Sorenstam and Gary Player. Each is under intense fire for accepting a ‘Presidential Medal of Freedom’ honour with Player’s own son, Marc, attacking his 85-year-old, nine-time Major winning father for his insensitivity just a day after one of the darkest days in American history.

Player has been savaged on social media with people incensed that he went through with a decision to be at the White House last Thursday. Marc tweeted: “I wish my father would simply & politely decline this ‘award’ at this time. Tone deaf. In denial. Wrong!!”

The eldest of Player’s six children also had a go at renowned Republican supporter, Jack Nicklaus and also Tiger Woods, both ‘Medal of Freedom’ honourees, with Woods being honoured by Trump mid-2019. Player’s son was asked by the Boston Globe’s Bob Ryan: “If we all understand the concept of tone deafness, what word best describes the decision of Gary Player and Annika Sorenstam to accept an award from a disgraced President TODAY, of all days?”

Player responded: “One word simply cannot provide any justification. Nor should Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods accept being condoned. Shame on all of them.” No surprise but all four, Nicklaus, Woods, Player and Sorenstam play golf with Trump.

Scotland was dragged into Trump’s false claims of 2020 election fraud when it suggested he may be considering jetting-over to his resort in Turnberry but Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was having none of it. Sturgeon cautioned the outgoing U.S. leader that playing a round would not be deemed an “essential purpose” for transatlantic travel into the country during the ongoing COVID crisis.

Administrators of the game are also reacting with the PGA & European Tour to announce a decision post U.S. Inauguration Day on Wednesday, 20th January in moving the WGC Mexico Championship from Mexico City and back to the U.S. for fears of the pandemic. No doubt waiting till after January 20th will ease any likely Twitter backlash from Trump as Trump Doral in suburban Miami played host to a PGA Tour event from the year it opened in 1962 and then hosted the WGC – Cadillac Championship from 2011 to 2016 but that all came to an end in June 2016.

Then PGA Tour Commissioner, Tim Finchem denied at the time that moving the event was  a ‘political exercise’ and said the event was heading to Mexico City as a sponsor could not be found for Trump Doral for 2017. Trump reacted to the news in a typical manner and chose then good media friends, Fox News saying: “They’re moving the event to Mexico City, which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance. It is a sad day for Miami, the United States and the game of golf, to have the PGA Tour consider moving the World Golf Championships, which has been hosted in Miami for the last 55 years, to Mexico.”

There have been some rumours that the 2021 WGC may return to Trump Doral but surely the PGA or European Tour’s would not be so blind or insensitive to even consider such a decision. The PGA of America is also being called upon to strip Trump’s course in Bedminster, New Jersey as host venue for the 2022 PGA Championship.

John Feinstein, the highly-respected golf journalist wrote last Thursday, a day after the Washington riots: “Golf, as a sport, has been embarrassingly quiet in the seven-plus months since (George) Floyd’s death. This is the time for the sport’s leaders to speak up and take tangible actions. It needs to start with PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh saying, ‘We are looking today for a new site for the 2022 PGA Championship’.”

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10 responses to “Golf under fire like never before and it’s down to one man – Trump”

  1. Andrew Loney avatar
    Andrew Loney

    Why do you think golf players / writers/ commentators should be making statements on politics As if they are untitled or have the authority to speak for the golfing communities. Perhaps the next subject focused on will be the financial markets. When you can advise the investors on their poor decisions. Or maybe doctors would be a subject, there’s always scope in this area for some finger pointing. My point is, your professional knowledge is golf , keep your personal political opinions to yourself and allow golf to be a place of neutrality as it has been. Especially in N,Ireland.

    1. Paul Wimpress avatar
      Paul Wimpress

      Couldn’t agree more Andrew. Why golf should feel it has to do anything in response to the death of a career criminal whilst resisting arrest is beyond me. I was surprised at Jack Nicklaus going public with his support for Trump, I thought he would be above that. The Gary Player thing doesn’t surprise me as he has always given me the impression that he was always a me me me sort of a guy.

      1. Tony Maher avatar

        I find both of your comments ridiculous. As a non American I have been watching the various news channels regarding the invasion of the Peoples House by Trump directed thugs. He is a disgrace to the human race.
        Under no circumstances should the golf authorities pander to this individual. The R&A have refused to consider Turnberry for the Open Championship since Trump bought the resort.
        This shows moral substance a quality Trump knows nothing about.
        Shame on those great golf stars for giving him oxygen at this time.

  2. Tom Kane avatar
    Tom Kane

    Top golfers endorse a fascist , fascist returns the compliment. Pardon me if I don’t want to be involved , even by long distance association . And when they come for golfers, who will object then .

  3. brendan+mcnestry avatar

    Normally I would agree with you Andrew and say leave politics out of sport BUT Jack put his head above the parapet and endorsed Trump for re-election. Those who accepted awards from Trump implicitly support him.
    Woods and Player don’t need any more awards but golf needs them to do the right thing – at the very least stay away from Trump and people like him.

  4. John avatar

    It’s an individual choice who you support or don’t support, when I’m playing golf I’m only thinking about my next shot. End of story

  5. Kevin Gallagher avatar
    Kevin Gallagher

    Well said Andrew Loney, Trump is hardly the first or last to make poor decisions, what about the false war on terror and non existent Iraqi nucs. Play the game and keep politics aside ?

  6. Tony Shine avatar
    Tony Shine

    If famous GOLFERS are accepting awards as golfers from a political figure making these awards to increase his profile and politics on the back of those awards not to mention his golfing Buisness. It a bit late to try pulling the neutrality non political card . Good sports peoples reputations ruined on the trump alter .

  7. Christy Mcguirk avatar
    Christy Mcguirk

    If we are going to ban golf tournaments in any trump owned courses then we must stop supporting the dubi duty free tournaments as that country gives shelter to drug barons who are killing people every day including golfers,with their vile products one of the biggest drug pushers on earth,,an irishman,,can walk freely around dubi, while his minions make millions for him,so if your going to mix sport an politics and ignore this murderer running free in dubi, stand up like the boxing world did and boycott any golf to do with dubi,,

  8. Pat Bowen avatar
    Pat Bowen

    The biggest problem with Trump is the lies. People are making decisions and doing things because they believe the lies. I also heard that Trump was a big donor to Jacks children hospitals. I also heard on good authority that there was little or no personal Trump money in Doonbeg, it came from a group of wealthy American investors.

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