While the LPGA has made it clear that it isn't happy with him, the organization says it's too late to move the tournament from Trump Turnberry.
Over the past two weeks, many of Donald Trump’s business partnerships have collapsed like a house of cards: Macy’s, NBC Universal, Univision, and Nascar have all cut ties with Trump in one way or another.
In the golf world, where Trump owns 15 courses and dreams of hosting a Major at one of them, the sport’s governing bodies have reacted strongly to his comments on immigration. The PGA last week issued a statement that the GOP presidential candidate’s remarks, “do not reflect the views of our organizations. While the LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA don’t usually comment on Presidential politics, Mr. Trump’s comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf.” Following the statement, the PGA of America pulled its Grand Slam of Golf from Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles (a new location has not yet been announced). ESPN will also move its ESPY charity golf tournament from the same course, holding the event at Pelican Hill Golf Club in nearby Newport Beach instead.
But there is one surprising golf event that is not pulling away from the controversial candidate. The RICOH Women’s British Open will still take place at the Trump Turnberry, a golf course and resort in Scotland.
That isn’t because the LPGA condones Trump’s recent comments. In fact, in a statement released today, the organization said: “At the current time, plans are to continue to stage the RICOH Women’s British Open at Turnberry. With just three weeks until the championship, a change in venue for this prestigious major simply isn’t feasible without significantly diminishing the event. By no means, however, does this decision suggest support for Mr. Trump’s comments. The LPGA will continue its commitment to diversity and inclusion in the game of golf as it has done for the last 65 years.”
In other words: The tournament will happen at Trump’s course because there isn’t time to relocate, but the LPGA isn’t happy about it. The Women’s British Open is run by the Ladies Golf Union (LGU), but co-sanctioned by the LPGA.
It is also worth noting that the statement cites “inclusion in the game of golf”—a key point not only in light of Trump’s most publicized statements about Mexican immigrants, but also in the context of comments he made to Fortune about the sport’s target market. In a February interview, published last week, Trump suggested that those in power at the PGA and other golf entities should cease efforts to reach new people, and instead, “let golf be elitist… Let people work hard and aspire to some day be able to play golf. To afford to play it.”
It is unclear whether Trump’s golf businesses will take a hit from the public distancing of groups like the PGA, LPGA and ESPN. But he has defended the comments and is sticking to their sentiment. In an interview with Golf Channel last week, Trump said that even after his remarks about immigration, he has seen “tremendous support” from the golf world, “because they all know I’m right.”
There are other major championships that, at least for now, are still scheduled to be played at his courses in the near future, including the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open, at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, and the 2017 Senior P.G.A. Championship, at Trump National Golf Club Washington D.C.