Martha Burk Calls on USGA, PGA to Sever Ties with Donald Trump
Martha Burk is back in golf, encouraging people to join a protest over the U.S. Women's Open being held next year at Trump National in New Jersey.
She made the call for supporters in a blog for The Huffington Post on Friday.
Burk rose to prominence in 2002 when she challenged Augusta National to end its discrimination by inviting a female member, suggesting it could become a problem at the Masters. The club chairman, Hootie Johnson, sent her a scathing reply that the club might one day have female members, but not "at the point of a bayonet."
Augusta National didn't budge in the wake of enormous pressure from Burk and the media, even going so far as to go commercial-free for the 2003 Masters. Burk's protest fizzled in a grassy lot. Nine years later, the club added its first two women.
Burk remains with the National Council of Women's Organizations as the director of its corporate accountability project.
The USGA, PGA Tour, LPGA and PGA of America released a joint statement last August to distance themselves from Donald Trump's explosive comments about Mexican immigrants when he announced his campaign for the president.
The PGA of America canceled its Grand Slam of Golf exhibition at Trump National in Los Angeles. The presumptive GOP nominee has golf courses in New Jersey and outside Washington that are to be used for the U.S. Women's Open next year, the PGA Championship and the Senior PGA Championship.
"Seems the United States Golf Association, no stranger to hypocrisy, refuses to move next year's U.S. Women's Open from the Trump-owned Bedminster club, even though the USGA issued a public statement condemning Trump's racist views after his 'Mexican rapist' rant when he announced his candidacy," Burk wrote.
Burk referenced the Augusta National protest and said the USGA "ignored its prohibition against holding events at clubs that discriminate." However, the USGA has no standing over players at the Masters. It runs 13 championships, 10 of them restricted to amateurs.
Burk said the USGA was putting "profit over principle," and that the LPGA also was being silent on the decision.
She ends the blog by posting a link to a petition to force the USGA to play next year's Women's Open somewhere else.
UPDATE: Spokespersons for Donald Trump and the PGA both declined to respond to Burk's call for the USGA to move the 2017 U.S. Women's Open away from Trump National, but a spokesperson for the USGA issued the following statement to GOLF.com:
Our focus is still on conducting the best championship we can for the players, the spectators, the fans and the volunteers, both this year and a year from now. During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has made some remarks that are at odds with our belief that golf should be welcoming and inclusive for all. We have reiterated that we do not share his views, and that is still true.
It is important to note that Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster has fully complied with our standing anti-discriminatory member policy, which we will continue to require of all championship sites.
As for Dr. Sammons, Dr. Sinnette, and Dr. Smith, we respect their views. They made exemplary contributions to our efforts to collect and preserve the rich history of African American golf and we’re truly saddened by their resignations. That said, we respect their personal decisions, and we remain committed to the important work of celebrating the stories of African American pioneers in golf.
UPDATE: A spokesperson for the LPGA issued a statement deferring to the USGA on the matter.
The USGA has been and continues to be a great partner for the LPGA. The USGA – not the LPGA – owns and operates the U.S. Women's Open and we are delighted to have so many of our LPGA members qualify to participate each year.
When it comes to decisions regarding venue, purse, TV, etc., those are solely made by the USGA.
We fully expect to keep the U.S. Women's Open on our 2017 schedule, and support the decisions made by the USGA on this matter.