Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
The R&A has removed Trump Turnberry as the site of the 2020 Open Championship due to the incendiary comments made by Donald Trump in his bid to become the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States. Should other golf governing bodies sever ties with Trump and his golf courses too?
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): So far all you can really say about Donald Trump is that he’s an obnoxious blowhard. Since he hasn’t been elected to anything, his rants and promises, as vile as they are, can’t be taken as anything more than his own personal lunacy. On the flip side he’s done a lot of beneficial things for golf including building new courses and strongly supporting major grow the game initiatives. To my knowledge, he hasn’t banned Muslims from his golf courses or deported any Mexican labourers or done any of the other truly offensive things he says he’d do as President. The golf bodies should be careful about treading too far along a path of deciding who is politically correct enough for them. After all, they’re currently doing business in a lot of places where human rights are violated, women are repressed and labour laws are non-existent.
Matthew MacKay, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTours): Oh boy, this is a loaded question. I don’t support Trump’s views but I think it’s too drastic for golf entities to completely disassociate themselves with him. Like him or not, he has pumped a ton of money into the golf industry and that fact shouldn’t be lumped in with his political views. Let’s hope that all of this passes soon and the golf industry doesn’t get painted with the broad brush of exclusivity as many media outlets love to do.
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): That’s a tough question to answer. As odious and obnoxious as Trump is, his company has actually had a very positive impact in golf — building terrific new courses, and renovating others like Turnberry. I guess the partners/directors of these courses have to ask themselves whether he’s an asset because of his investment or a liability if and when golfers refuse to play at his courses. Certainly I would think that any tournament scheduled to play at a Trump course should consider its options and investigate moving… or at least omit the Trump name from its corporate identity, if it can. I can’t ever see his brand being an asset again, after the last few weeks.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: Quite humourous to have the R&A getting all righteous about the latest Trumpism, after just admitting its first female members, and not being upset by his act while he was writing big cheques. Golf its own self getting sanctimonious now after being dragged kicking and screaming into enlightenment — the token memberships at Augusta National especially Condi Rice’s do not count, and witness the PGA Tour’s long history of blatant racism, Shoal Creek? — is laughable. It was okay that Trump labelled Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers and wants to wall them off, but blurting a lame-brained ban on Muslims after a murderous assault is suddenly over the top? There are roughly as many Mexicans in the US as there are Canadians in all of Canada, but Trump saying he would deport them all and build a wall fell on deaf ears at the R&A and the august halls of the money printing machine at Ponte Vedra. The other organizations will make their own belated self-righteous moral stands when they can afford to, and not before. And, at least until the GOP Convention Trump will continue, as he always has, to offend and insult and alarm anyone capable of thought.
Craig Loughry, GAO Director of Handicapping (@craigloughry): Although Trump is quite politically incorrect, organizations should be careful playing the political game. As an example, there is a GOLF LOBBY DAY in the US (as well as in Canada), if Trump becomes President, organizations may find themselves warming back up to Trump to help golf`s cause. Of course Trump would never turn his back on golf as he’s is too far entrenched in real estate that is connected to our sport. Just let Trump make an ass of himself (which he does quite well all on his own), the rest will take care of itself in time. I’m not saying what the R&A did was wrong, nor what the PGA Tour is considering about Doral, or USGA regarding the 2017 US Woman’s Open, but I’m just not sure I would try and `make a statement` by severing ties.
TJ Rule, Golf Away Tours (@GolfAwayTJ): Well it’s a shame that an amazing course and venue such as Turnberry has to be taken from the rotation because of that idiot, but he certainly deserves it. Just the start of things to come for Mr. Trump’s golf empire. Not seeing the Scottish Open heading to Trump Aberdeen any time soon. But even more shocking, how is he leading the Republican primary? Are you kidding me? Wake up America!
Jim Kenesky, PGA (@JimKeneskyGolf): Trump speaks what many people think. Maybe they should all just wait to pull the trigger. Losing Turnberry is terrible but I understand if organizers wish to not be associated with Trump. Yes, I believe others will follow suit.
Frank Mastroianni, Freelance Writer: This is pretty much ridiculous. It’s completely hypocritical especially coming from an organization that has no problem bringing their national championship to a place like Muirfield (a men only club) or Royal St. Georges, which hadn’t admitted women to their membership for the last 128 years. The R&A itself had not a single female member until this year; it needs to stay out of politics. And no matter their or your political/personal opinion of Trump, I’m sure there are many great people who work at Turnberry or live within a distance that would see significant economic impact by holding The Open, not to mention the charitable donations that could come to the community. I sincerely hope other governing bodies won’t follow suit.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): Of course they should. If Finchem believes that the game’s image suffers when his players ‘misbehave’ off of the golf course, then it should go without saying that this racist buffoon has no place in the sport. He is golf’s Donald Sterling and he needs to go.
What’s the Golf Story of the Year for 2015?
Rule: Well, I had to Google “top golf stories of 2015” just to make sure I wasn’t forgetting something, and the top 3 most read stories on Golfchannel.com are 1) Charles Barkley not being friends with Tiger anymore, 2) Jason Dufner’s divorce, and 3) Rickie Fowler burning someone on Instagram for insulting his girlfriend. So that didn’t help! Yikes, goes to show you what grabs people’s attention these days! Anyway, back to real “reality”, I would have to choose Jordan Spieth’s dominant year. Arguably the second best year by any golfers in the past 40 years, and he became the world’s best player. Tough act for him to follow in 2016, but I’m looking forward to following, he’s an easy guy to cheer for!
Deeks: In worldwide golf, it has to be the stunning year and (hopefully) permanent arrival of Jordan Spieth. In Canada, the stunning year and (hopefully) permanent arrival of Brooke Henderson. In the business of golf, I’d say the stunning growth of the game and number of courses in southeast Asia… Vietnam, China, Malaysia… the reverse of what’s happening in the western world.
Loughry: Short and sweet: it has to be Spieth, his playing record this year will go down as one of the best seasons in history.
Kenesky: For Canada: Brooke Henderson. For my hometown of Hamilton: Alena Sharp. In general: The rise of the next generation… Spieth, Day, McIlroy, Fowler. A close second is Zach Johnson winning The Open Championship. For PGA of Canada: Danny King’s amazing season in the National Championships.
Kaplan: We have a new Big 3! I would argue it’s the biggest golf story that we’ve had over the last decade.
Quinn: On a truly emotional level, one that got the whole family involved and triggered calls from across the country, the story of 2015 was the fabulous play of Brooke Henderson. It was just such a kick to watch her gut it out under all that pressure and be so strong and gracious. Spieth won all those Majors and all that money, but Brooke won our hearts.
Mumford: Tiger last won a Major in 2008 and hasn’t had a decent season since 2013, yet he’s been talked about constantly as though he’s still the Golf Story of the Year – until now. This year, Jordan Spieth knocked Tiger out of the conversation, off the front page and pretty much out of mind. The kid had the best year of anybody since the 2000 season when whatsisname did something special.
MacKay: Gotta be Jordan Spieth. He singlehandedly brought golf back into focus within the general sporting world and endeared himself to nearly everyone in the process. I love his passion for the game and that he doesn’t have a freakish skill-set that sets him apart. He simply plays the game with a maturity well beyond his years.
Mastroianni: Golf story of the year is “gimmiegate” at the Solheim Cup. Not because Pettersen didn’t give Lee the putt, but because it’s incredible how many people think she should have. This story was one of the few that went beyond golf and featured a larger narrative on society as a whole.
You have one Christmas gift to bestow on the world of golf. What would it be?
Deeks: A booming economy.
Loughry: Tiger wins 3 of 4 majors in 2016 in an unbelievable comeback, a Christmas MIRACLE that ignites millions more fans to play more golf and new ones who take up the game.
Quinn: The gift would be that at every green on every open-to-the-public course, there would be a volunteer armed with a box of divot tools and the authority to not let any golfer move on to the next tee before repairing their pitch mark. Here on the wet coast, my pals and I fix an average of three each, per hole, sometimes half a dozen or more. Some days it can be so aggravating it can throw you off your game. Self absorption and absence of consideration for others has no place in the game, but certain types have to be forced to act properly. This gift’s for them and we’d all benefit.
Rule: Well the easy one is Tiger Woods returning and winning his first tournament back, since that would be the most exciting thing that could happen, I don’t care if you’re a Tiger lover or hater. Ratings bonanza!
Mumford: Truckloads of red stakes to every golf course everywhere to replace all the yellow stakes and white stakes. Most golfers just drop a ball close to where the last one entered a hazard or went off the property anyway so why mark the course in a way that slows play and confuses them. Just treat everything as a lateral hazard and move on.
Mastroianni: I wouldn’t bestow my one Christmas gift on the world of golf; we’re already lucky to take part. Rather, I’d bestow everyone out there, golfer or not, the best of health and happiness.
Kenesky: More water. I’m a fan of White Christmases in December but I prefer green over brown grass in July.
Kaplan: An HBO behind-the-scenes golf series.
MacKay: My wish would be that each and every person who loves golf introduces one person to the game. I’ve yet to meet a person who has earnestly tried to learn the game and didn’t become completely smitten with it. We always seem to be looking to governing bodies or manufacturers to grow the game when the simple answer is looking at us in the mirror.
From all of us at the Round Table, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year! See you in January!