Donald Trump has put the R&A in “uncharted territory” since becoming US President but that will not stop Turnberry being considered for the Open Championship, the organisation’s chief executive has said.
Martin Slumbers said it would be “foolhardy” for the St Andrews-based organisation not to work with Mr Trump if the Ayrshire venue, which is owned by the American’s family, is selected to stage golf’s oldest major during his spell in the White House.
That would probably need to involve Mr Trump serving a second term as the Open Championship venues through until 2021 have now been largely finalised following an announcement that the 2020 event, the next one that was up for grabs, will be staged at Royal St George’s in Kent.
While still to be confirmed, it means the event’s 150th anniversary in 2021 will almost certainly be staged at St Andrews, meaning that 2022 is the earliest available opportunity for Turnberry to welcome it back for the first time since 2009.
“I was very clear last year when I said that we were focused on Turnberry as a golf course, and there has been nothing that’s happened in the last year to change that,” said Mr Slumbers.
“Turnberry remains one of our nine golf courses (for the Open Championship). I also said last year that Turnberry wasn’t involved in the discussion for ’20 and ’21, and we will not be thinking about ’22 for at least another year.
“We are clearly now in uncharted territory as we’ve never had this in our game. Sitting presidents have attended US Opens, but we have not had a sitting President of the United States at an Open Championship. We’ve had royalty, but for all of us in the game, we are in uncharted territory here with the president’s family owning golf courses. We’re all learning as we go through this.
“But we are talking about the President of the United States, and, with all senior people in the world, I think it’s polite and respectful to listen to them and work with them. It’s very important that we work with the president if Turnberry did come back on. That would just be foolhardy not to.”
Golf’s most influential organisations had previously distanced itself from Mr Trump in the wake of his views on Mexican immigrants and his vow to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.