Senior figures in the R&A do not want the Open Championship to return to Turnberry while Donald Trump is president because he would “suck the air out of” the tournament, it has been claimed.
The claim has been made by Alan Shipnuck, a Sports Illustrated journalist who has spent weeks researching Trump’s relationship with golf for a 7,000 word in-depth article he recently wrote for the magazine.
As part of his research, Shipnuck claimed to have spoken with a high-ranking individual within golf’s ruling body who thought the presence of the controversial US president at the game’s oldest and most prestigious competition would be an unhelpful distraction.
Trump bought the famous Ayrshire links in 2014 and has poured millions into upgrading the golf course and its famous hotel.
The hugely controversial nature of his politics, including his provocative remarks about Muslims and his plans for a wall on the US/Mexican border, have led to Scottish politicians suggesting that Turnberry should be taken off The Open rota.
Shipnuck did not refer to the conversation about the Open in his article, preferring to concentrate on other controversies surrounding many of the president’s golf developments and his attitude to the game itself.
But he disclosed the details of the conversation in a GOLF.com podcast in which he discussed the Sports Illustrated article.
“I talked to a high-ranking person at the R&A about where Turnberry fits into this, because those tweedy blokes have kind of made it clear they don’t want to host an Open and have Donald Trump suck the air out of it,” Shipnuck said.
“It’s hard to think about Turnberry not hosting an Open in Donald Trump’s lifetime, so they said – this person who I spoke to – said: ‘We really don’t want to do it while he’s president, because we know he would show up, because how could he stay away’?”
He added that the view was that hosting an Open was difficult enough without having to deal with the security required for looking after Trump.
“So his life in politics will probably determine when the Open goes to Turnberry,” Shipnuck said.
“But the person I spoke to said we consider Turnberry part of the rota. It will host an Open, it is just a question of when,” Shipnuck added.
Open Championship venues have been decided up until 2020 with Carnoustie, Royal Portrush and Royal St George’s in line for the tournament. St Andrews is likely to host the 150th championship in 2021.
A spokesman for The R&A said: “There is no change to our previously stated position. Turnberry is one of the ten courses which host the Open and will be considered in future along with the other venues.”