The PGA of America announced in 2014 that the 2022 PGA Championship would be hosted at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
For former President Donald Trump, it was the first time one of his courses had been chosen to host a major golf tournament. According to Trump Golfit has 19 different courses.
But as golfers vie for the last to win the Wanamaker Trophy, they won’t be playing at Bedminster. Instead, they will be at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a venue that has hosted PGA Championships in four different years.
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Why won’t the tournament be played on Trump’s course anymore? The Sporting News dives into what led to this change.
Why the PGA Championship was moved from Bedminster
Back on January 10, 2021, the PGA of America tweeted a statement from PGA of America President Jim Richerson stating that the Board of Directors had terminated the agreement to have the 2022 PGA Championship played to Trump. Bedminster.
“The PGA of America Board of Directors voted tonight to exercise the right to terminate the agreement to play the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump Bedminster.” —Jim Richerson, President of the PGA of America
— PGA of America (@PGA) January 11, 2021
According to a report by the Fire Pit Collective, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh met with the group’s senior executives and board members on Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol Hill riots in which supporters of Trump stormed the US Capitol to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election. The group weighed a number of factors and ultimately made the decision the following day to keep the 2022 PGA Championship away from Trump’s course.
“Everyone wants to make it a political decision, but we were put in a political place that was not of our making,” Waugh told the Fire Pit Collective.
My feeling was that we could do existential damage to our brand by staying in Bedminster. If we stayed, the PGA 2022 would be about his property. People would think we were making a statement by staying there. I felt like we could do permanent damage to the brand if we stayed. Just like the board of directors.
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The board’s decision was unanimous despite uncertainty over where the 2022 PGA Championship would be held instead. The Fire Pit Collective revealed that several courses, including Jack Nicklaus’ Valhalla course in Louisville, Kentucky, were considered before Southern Hills sent out an email expressing interest in hosting the tournament. The PGA of America chose the Tulsa, Oklahoma course and announced the decision Jan. 25.
“This is a breach of a binding contract and they have no right to terminate the agreement,” the Trump Organization said in a statement following the decision, according to the Associated Press. “As an organization, we have invested many, many millions of dollars in the 2022 PGA Championship at Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster. We will continue to promote the game of golf at all levels and remain focused on harnessing the best golf courses all over the world.”
Trump Golf has entered into a legal dispute with the PGA of America over the decision, according to Policywhich was resolved at the end of 2021.
“The Trump Organization’s contribution to the golf community is appreciated,” the PGA of America said in a statement. “We are grateful that the company employs hundreds of dedicated PGA professionals and consistently gives back to the golf community by hosting charity events and sponsoring junior golf programs. As stated in 2014 when it was announced, Trump Bedminster is a championship-worthy major golf course and in a portfolio with some of the best private and public golf courses in the world.
Eric Trump, son of Donald Trump and executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said in a statement that the group has “great respect for the work of the PGA,” according to Politico.
“For the past 20 years, we have enjoyed working with the PGA to provide our club members and the public with some of the greatest golf experiences in the world,” Eric Trump said in the statement. “We look forward to continuing to support the mission of the PGA and its professionals, who are the best in the golf industry.”
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But that doesn’t mean everyone is happy with how the breakup went. Nicklaus praised Waugh in an interview with the Fire Pit Collective, but called the move “cancel culture.”
“Donald Trump can be many things, but he loves golf and he loves this country,” Nicklaus said. “He’s a student of the game and a tremendous figure in the game. What he does in the future of golf will depend on what the cancel culture allows him to do.”