America's top golfing body cut ties to President Donald Trump on Sunday when it voted to take the PGA Championship event away from his New Jersey golf course next year.
The decision by PGA of America comes four days after the riot by Trump supporters at the nation’s Capitol as Congress was certifying the election victory of president-elect Joe Biden.
PGA president Jim Richerson said the board voted to exercise its right to “terminate the agreement” with Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“We find ourselves in a political situation not of our making,” Seth Waugh, PGA chief executive, told the Associated Press. “We’re fiduciaries for our members, for the game, for our mission and for our brand. And how do we best protect that? Our feeling was given the tragic events of Wednesday that we could no longer hold it at Bedminster. The damage could have been irreparable. The only real course of action was to leave.”
The PGA of America, which has a membership of about 29,000 golf professionals who mostly teach the game, signed the deal with Trump National in 2014.
This is the second time in just over five years that the PGA removed one of its events from a Trump course. It cancelled the PGA Grand Slam of Golf in 2015 at Trump National Los Angeles Golf Club after Mr Trump’s disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants when he announced he was seeking the Republican nomination for president. The event was cancelled for good the following spring.
The shocking insurrection Wednesday rattled the country, and in golf circles, attention quickly focused on whether the PGA of America would keep its premier championship – and one of golf’s four major championships – at Mr Trump’s course in 2022.
“Our decision wasn’t about speed and timing," Mr Waugh said. "What matters most to our board and leadership is protecting our brand and reputation, and the ability for our members to lead the growth of the game, which they do through so many powerful programmes in their communities.”
Mr Trump delivered a speech to his supporters before the storming of the Capitol in which he repeatedly made baseless claims that the election was stolen from him and urged them to “fight”.
Mr Trump has faced an increasing backlash over his role in the violence, with major social networking sites imposing bans and Congress moving to impeach him as he prepares to leave office on January 20.