Now that Donald Trump has been elected president, the U.S. Golf Association undoubtedly wishes that questions about where it is hosting the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open will just go away.
“The USGA has not changed its position on the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open at this time,” spokeswoman Janeen Driscoll told USA TODAY Sports this week.
That means that the tournament is scheduled to go on as planned at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., July 13-16, 2017.
A national championship hosted by the President of the United States? Isn’t that the stuff of our dreams?
Actually, with this man, it’s more like a nightmare.
The USGA, a national governing body whose mission is to grow the game of golf for women and girls, has not only failed to rebuke a man who bragged on video that he sexually assaults women, it continues to do business with him.
It could have taken the crown jewel of women’s golf away from him when the video of his repugnant comments was made public more than a month ago. It could have left him at any point in the campaign, when he said one vile thing after another about women, minorities, immigrants and so many others.
Instead, the USGA said nothing and did nothing. The silence was a de facto nod: We’re with him.
Then came the election, and the shocking Trump victory. If the USGA had been thinking a Trump loss to Hillary Clinton could justify moving the tournament, it was stuck now. How could you possibly defy the president?
If you had a spine you could. If you had a moral compass. If you were outraged at the way Trump so brazenly admitted he treated women. If you truly cared about the image you’re projecting for the women and girls you’re desperately trying to attract to your game.
That’s a lot of “ifs” for a country-cluby, old-boys-club organization like the USGA to overcome.
I know what you’re thinking. If millions of voters in the right combination of states condoned or overlooked what Trump did, why shouldn’t the USGA?
Because the USGA is not governed by the Electoral College. It is governed by people working in a particular sliver of our society, people who are specialists about the demographics and future of their sport, people who were chosen to make decisions in the best interest of their game.
The USGA has made a visible effort over the past few years to try to start digging out from decades of discrimination against women and girls. With millions of 20-something and 30-something female athletes out there looking for sports to take up in adulthood, golf is not thriving. It is flailing.
Its biggest problem in attracting new golfers from an increasingly diverse America? The perception that golf is a sport for rich, white men.
And now the USGA is unable to act, paralyzed by a rich, white man who has ridiculed almost everyone but his cronies and peers, almost all of whom are rich, white men.
What should the USGA do? It should immediately renounce Trump and his golf course and find a replacement location, something that is eminently doable for a tournament of its size with eight months to go. Late Tuesday evening, ESPN reported that at least three NBA teams have decided not to stay at Trump-branded hotels when on the road this season. That’s not the same as moving an entire golf tournament, obviously, but there’s a theme developing here.
We know Trump wouldn’t be happy. There would be tweets.
But if the USGA had the guts to stand up to Trump and take the Women’s Open away from him and his golf course, it would be delivering the most significant message of inclusion to women and girls in the history of the game of golf. It would be that big of a deal, eclipsing the moment more than four years ago when Augusta National, home of the Masters, announced its first two female members.
So this is your choice, USGA. You can stand up for women and minorities and immigrants, here and around the world. Or you can bring the best female golfers in the world to a golf course owned by the best-known admitted sexual predator in the world.