Next month, the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., will host the U.S. Women’s Open, an event that was awarded to the club years before President Trump’s campaign officially teed off but now inextricably linked with his politics. And that may not be the only significant tournament to land at a Trump property.
Trump International Golf Links on the outskirts of Aberdeen is the favorite to host the 2019 Scottish Open. The European Tour said, via the Guardian, that no decision has been made and other courses are under consideration because of the high-voltage attention that attaches itself to the Trump name. Still, Tour officials are believed to have visited Trump International several times while scouting for the tournament, sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management. That company’s co-founder and chief executive attended the president’s inauguration in January.
There are significant hurdles to awarding the tournament to Trump International, however. The Scottish government is a partner in the tournament and has not addressed the reports that the president’s club may land the event. Thousands protested the president’s travel ban in January and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been highly critical of Trump. Both protests and Sturgeon’s cool stance toward the president could make for an uncomfortable event.
Nor were Trump’s plans for the property, an environmentally protected site featuring 4,000-year-old sand dunes, immediately welcomed by local landowners and environmentalists. There was a feud over a wind farm about two miles from the club, which is located on Menie Estate and lies along the coast just north of Aberdeen in Balmedie. Trump purchased it in 2006 with plans to make it a world-class venue.
Changes to the course and the surrounding area angered some residents. Susan and John Munro, who had a clear view of Girdle Ness lighthouse in Aberdeen when they found their cottage 35 years ago, refused to sell to comply with development plans and, according to reports last fall, they now look at a nearly 15-foot-high berm on two sides of the property. According to the New York Times, a quarry worker whose home sits on the opposite side of the Trump property, placed a “Hillary for president” flag on his property after Trump publicly accused him of living “like a pig” and called him a “disgrace” for not selling his “disgusting” and “slumlike” home.
“He has just ruined it for us here. He has just hemmed us in,” Susan Munro told the Guardian last year. “He just did what he pleased and the council just turned a blind eye. … Mr. Trump likes his walls.”
Balmedie residents told the Times that many of Trump’s promises were broken. “A promised $ 1.25 billion investment has shrunk to what his opponents say is at most $ 50 million,” Katrine Bennhold wrote. “Six thousand jobs have dwindled to 95. Two golf courses to one. An eight-story, 450-room luxury hotel never materialized, nor did 950 timeshare apartments. Instead, an existing manor house was converted into a 16-room boutique hotel. Trump International Golf Links, which opened in 2012, lost $ 1.36 million last year, according to public accounts.”
Next month’s U.S. Open in New Jersey could be a preview of what happens when Trump’s past and present lives collide. As the New York Times’ Karen Crouse says, Trump in his previous life was the “Daddy Warbucks of women’s golf” and hosted top players every year at Mar-a-Lago during the ADT Championship, the last event on the LPGA calendar. He often advised women golfers on financial matters and invited them to play golf. They accepted, Crouse writes, “for the same reason they play pro-am events every year with dozens of other golfers, including those who harbor different political and personal beliefs: These people, usually men, sustain the Tour with their support.”
And that support has been reciprocal. Golfer Natalie Gulbis spoke on Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention. Crouse conducted an anonymous survey of 40 players at the Founders Cup in mid-March and found that 60 percent (24) said they would play with Trump, nine said they would not and seven declined to comment. An unnamed non-American joked to Crouse, “I want to stay in the country, so I’ll say yes.”
Trump National was awarded the U.S. Women’s Open by the U.S. Golf Association in 2012 and there was some pressure to move the July 13-16 tournament. However, the USGA, which puts on the event, has refused, even in the face of a protest by UltraViolet, the women’s advocacy group, at the men’s U.S. Open earlier in June. In a statement, UltraViolet called the decision to hold the event at Bedminster “straight-up offensive.” In late May, the U.S. men’s Senior PGA Championship was held at Trump National just outside Washington, and golfers shied away from political discussions.
“I think he’s doing a hell of a job,” John Daly, who said he has been a friend of the president for 25 years, told The Post’s Barry Svrluga. “I really do.”
“I believe in almost every policy he believes in,” Fred Funk said.
The USGA hoped to maintain that separation, too, when the women’s Open takes place.
“We’re a golf organization. We’re simply not going to cross that line into politics,” USGA Executive Director Mike Davis said in May. “I can appreciate that some people do. That’s what’s great about this country, that everyone has their own political views. We’re a golf association and we’re sticking to golf.”