A few years ago – and I can’t even remember the year because it’s so insignificant, but funny – I received an e-mail, which I assume went to everybody covering the final round of the RBC Canadian Open for Sun Media.
It was from an entertainment editor I’d never heard of and she was offering what she thought was a plum assignment, or maybe she didn’t and was just trying to sell it as such.
Anyway, word had gotten back to headquarters that Paulina Gretzky was in the crowd at Glen Abbey to watch Dustin Johnson play. Of course, they were the “it” couple, certainly worthy of having a cute, combined nickname, you know like “Dustina” or “Paulstin.” You decide if you’re in to that kind of thing.
The point is that the recipients of this e-mail were not into that kind of thing. Their quest for a Paulina story was merely an eye-rolling annoyance as the national championship drew to a conclusion and golf was our focus.
The same held true as the U.S. Women’s Open ramped up at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J., as players from world No. 1 So Yeon Ryu to Michelle Wie to Lydia Ko to Inbee Park were questioned about the host site’s namesake, who also happens to be president of the country that was welcoming them to its national championship.
Donald Trump is quicksand to his detractors. The more they react and flail away at something he’s done, the deeper in you go. The offence du jour on Monday and likely every day this week to some degree was Trump’s attitude towards women, in particular controversial comments on an Access Hollywood videotape.
The backlash, however, wasn’t exclusively targeted at Trump, instead drawing in the USGA/LPGA and players, as well.
The USGA awarded this week’s U.S. Women’s Open to Trump National back in 2012, long before he took a run at the presidency, and any attempt to move it could have resulted in a lawsuit, which some say Trump threatened.
Whether that’s true or not, there are other major obstacles such as tickets, merchandise and other logistical considerations that critics don’t concern themselves with or care about that would have made such a move a nightmare.
As usual, women who did nothing wrong are subject to ridicule for wanting to play a tournament a $5-million purse, one that could advance their careers and possibly change their lives.
Martha Burk, who unsuccessfully ran a campaign to get female members into Augusta National long before that actually took place, had this to say about LPGA Tour players in a Huffington Post column.
“Most if not all of them are members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, and they’re acting like good little girls and remaining mute, or saying they don’t see a problem with playing their most important tournament at a course owned by the country’s leading misogynist.”
Burk accuses the USGA of being at the core of a boys’ club willing to exploit the women for monetary gain, yet at the same time suggests that LPGA players don’t have the intelligence or maturity to make a call on their own.
Burk is welcome to her opinions on Trump, but she sounds like a misogynist herself with her attitude towards the female golfers who played no part in this drama, yet are taking the heat for it.
They don’t see themselves as being exploited. Instead, they are stepping forward for women in the advancement of their careers despite the boys club that Burk believes exists.
The LPGA Tour has made great strides the past few years, increasing its profile with standout players from around the globe and that builds a foundation for future female players, so don’t expect it to be caught in the mire of American politics as it exists today.
Should players from outside the U.S. pay the price? As So Yeon Ryu, a South Korean, said, “We are here to play golf, not hear to talk about the politics so I don’t have any better answer.”
There isn’t a better answer. Their mission this week is important in the advancement of their careers and for women. It should go forward, without any distractions.