Sethworth and the PGA have shown more courage than many politicians in this country. And more has been done to defend our democracy.
It was largely forgotten, but this week’s PGA Championship in South Hills was supposed to be in Trump Bedminster. However, four days after the Jan. 6 uprising, the PGA voted to disqualify the Bedminster major, saying keeping him on a field owned by Donald Trump could cause irreparable damage.
They hardly know.
In the 16 months since, Republican politicians and far-right pundits, better aware but too afraid to confront the former president, echoed his lies about the theft of the 2020 election. The evidence to support Trump’s claims is absolutely nil; instead, dozens of recounts, investigations and court cases have found no evidence of fraud or impropriety.
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A third of Americans still think President Joe Biden’s victory is illegitimate, a much higher number among Republicans, thanks to Trump’s continued lies, and the bonelessness of parrot politicians. Because of Trump’s insistence on staying true to this big lie, we have election deniers on the national, state and local racial ballots that pose an existential threat to our democracy.
So what does this have to do with the PGA Championship?
The PGA of America and its CEO, Waugh, understand the political leanings of its members and the larger golf community. They know that many people voted for Trump, and even if they don’t believe his lies about the election, they may not see the harm in them. They know that many do not hold him responsible for the failed coup, which sought to circumvent the first peaceful transfer of power in our country’s history.
They also know that if they can weather the initial wave of negative publicity, golf’s current audience might shrug off the idea of the PGA Championship staying on a course owned by Trump. They’ll approve or at least laugh when they see Trump using this week’s tournament as a platform to sow more doubt in our electoral process.
Waugh and the PGA of America knew it all, and they changed the PGA Championship anyway.
“We find ourselves in a political situation that we didn’t make,” Waugh says Jan. 10, 2021 US PGA votes to strip Trump Bedminster of his first men’s Grand Slam title under Trump later told the Associated Press. course.
“The loss may be irreparable. The only real course of action is to leave.”
So terrifying at times, they ask us to put aside convenience and self-interest and act for the greater good. Our nation is facing an era now, and Waugh and the PGA of America have risen to the challenge in a way that many others have not.
Imagine if the PGA Championship were in Trump Bedminster this week. When the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open is played there, the question of whether Trump will show up has clouded preparations for the tournament. When he does show up, all eyes are on him, not the golfer.
That was before he slammed the foundation of our democracy with a sledgehammer.
Now, with Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate Republican primary still up in the air and the midterm elections looming, Trump will be wandering the Bedminster grounds, looking for whatever cameras and reporters he can find, eager to publish one after another Weird opinion. His delusions will be the main storyline this week, rather than Stewart Cink turning back the clock, Bubba Watson breaking a scoring record, or Tiger Woods’ extraordinary rebound over the weekend.
As Waugh predicted, this will do irreparable damage to golf’s image and our country.
Instead, Trump was a sideshow at best, reduced to a rambling interview with Golf Digest’s Michael Bamberg, who claimed he wouldn’t even be watching this week’s game.
There is a lesson in all of this.
Fearing punishment from Trump and his supporters, many Republican politicians went silent, and when the cameras and microphones were off, they would admit that there was no truth to the big lie. However, Waugh and other PGA bigwigs were not expelled to town hall. Fans aren’t boycotting the PGA Championship. The players are the same as any other Grand Slam, as are the sponsors and broadcasters.
Waugh and the U.S. PGA chose country over expediency, and they did well. If only Republican politicians and pundits did the same, we wouldn’t have to worry about the survival of our country.