West Valentine: Trump can’t harm golf and the PGA can't hurt Trump

The R&A and the PGA have officially ruled out any official tournaments at Turnberry and Trump National, respectively. In doing so, the two golfing societies codified what was already an unwritten policy – there will be no golf in the land of Trump.

His social media accounts have been frozen. Big media hangs him in brutalist effigy every night on the news. His supporters are called Nazis, racists, sexists, homophobes, and terrorists. Now we can add the PGA and the R&A to a list of global corporations raising their voices to drown out President Trump.

Golf, and sports in general, were previously a happy, politics-free zone where love of the game, a team, or a favorite player allowed fans of all political stripes to rise above the petty issues of the day and celebrate together.

No more.

I’ve written before that golf has done a commendable job of addressing social issues while remaining above the fray –  unlike the NBA, NFL, MLB, and virtually every other professional sports league in the world.

Today, the R&A and PGA have decided to forfeit that higher ground and embrace the rank hypocrisy of their brother and sister leagues.

How, you may ask?

Let’s take China. The PGA is heavily invested in growing the Chinese market. Billions of dollars worth of golf equipment and apparel are made in China. The PGA has a Tour in China, though coronavirus wiped it out this year.

Yet China is – and the pace is ever-quickening – committing religious genocide, allowing and promoting slave labor, actively attacking US and Western democracies through cyber warfare, and daily stripping people, in particular women and homosexuals, of basic human rights.

We can go back and forth on how much you think President Trump is an existential threat to humanity. And it’s not my intention to make him the victim here. He’s not. But if your moral compass is guided by your politics and not the other way around, this cognitive dissonance should be jarring.

For those that celebrate the comeuppance of Trump, you’re dancing on an empty grave. This boycott may irritate Trump, but in reality it punishes golf fans around the world much more.

The Ailsa Course at Turnberry is one of the finest golf courses on the planet. Royal County Down may be the only other course with a legitimate claim to being the best in the UK.

As a site set up to host a Major, the hotel, the golf facilities, and the grounds at Turnberry are unsurpassed.

Turnberry is also a significant part of Open lore. It’s the site of the greatest Open ever played – The Duel in the Sun – in 1977 between Nicklaus and Watson. It’s where Watson almost won again at age 59. In addition, it’s hosted multiple Senior and Women’s Opens.

Even on a global scale, Turnberry can go toe-to-toe with titans like Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, and Pine Valley. In my opinion, it should never be ranked outside of the Top 5 courses in the world. It probably deserves to be in the Top 3 most years.

And the views. My word, the views. From the iconic lighthouse, the ruins of Robert the Bruce’s castle, Ailsa Craig … every sightline is a postcard. There's even an odd piece of runway cutting through the property – a reminder of the airfields that consumed the land in WWI and WWII. It all brims with quintessential Scottish landscapes, hospitality, and history.

With the exception of Cypress Point’s closing stretch, there may be no more perfectly hewn piece of golfing real estate in the world. Sorry, Pebble Beach.

And, as of now, we’ll never again see the best golfers in the world compete there.

If you truly believe that golf should take a stand against people or countries who cross some line in your personal or political views, I look forward to seeing you protest outside the BMW Championship at Wentworth. That club is owned by a Chinese mega-conglomerate.

Then, buy some sunscreen for your protest at The Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the UAE, a country where homosexuality is still criminalized and women have fewer rights than men.

The owners of Wentworth and Abu Dhabi are far more worthy of our protestations, I would think. But none of this is about morals or beliefs, is it? It’s about ham-handed revenge. It’s about virtue-signaling. And it’s more than a little pathetic.

It’s said that golf reveals character. In cancelling Turnberry and Trump National, the R&A and PGA have revealed theirs. They are petty, short-sighted hypocrites who have put the politics of the day ahead of the game.

Indeed, the thought crimes of which they accuse Trump are readily put into actual practice by a number of people, leaders, and countries the two golfing bodies enthusiastically support.

We should all assume from this fiasco that the R&A and PGA are currently vetting every venue and ownership group of every facility at which they play. Right? Because this is all about claiming the moral high ground, not personal and political revenge. Right?

You know the answer to that. Of course, they aren’t.

Trump can’t harm golf. And it’s foolish to think the R&A and the PGA can hurt Trump. All parties are too big to fail. The only people harmed in this childish exercise are the people who have given both Trump and the golfing bodies their power and money – golf fans.

Get the Top 3 Delivered

Three entertaining golf stories, manually sourced (no bots or algorithms), delivered to your inbox every afternoon, for free.

Still not sold? Browse some recent issues.
You've successfully subscribed to An independent golf media brand
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to An independent golf media brand
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.