President Donald Trump on Friday announced that he plans to attend the U.S. Women’s Open at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club upon returning from his trip to Paris, raising conflict-of-interest concerns and drawing the ire of critics who say the LPGA is “endorsing” the president’s misogyny.
His attendance at the major tournament is the latest chapter in a long-running saga of Trump and the Women’s Open, which began Thursday at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.
It started in 2016, when the United States Golf Association and the LPGA tour faced calls to move the Open from Trump National after a tape leaked of the then-Republican nominee telling Access Hollywood host Billy Bush that his celebrity allows him to “grab [women] by the pussy.”
The tournament was not moved, and it was later reported that Trump had threatened to sue the USGA if it was.
“We can’t get out of this,” USGA executive director Mike Davis told the organization’s executive committee, according to a USA Today source. “He’s going to sue us.”
UltraViolet, which is protesting the tournament this weekend, condemned the decision to hold the Open at Trump’s golf course as a “stain” on the LPGA and USGA.
“Donald Trump has a long and well documented history of sexual assault and sexual harassment,” Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, said in a statement. “By choosing to hold this tournament at Trump’s course, the USGA and the LGPA are endorsing Trump’s behavior. That is not only shameful and outrageous, but it is a huge disservice to the golfers who are playing this weekend.”
One of those players, Brittany Lincicome, has explicitly said that Trump should not attend the tournament, saying it should be “about us.”
“Hopefully maybe he doesn’t show up and it won’t be a big debacle and it will be about us and not him,” Lincicome told the Chicago Tribune on June 29. “I don’t know him. I have met him probably once. I think it will be fine. We’re going to play an amazing golf course and let our clubs do the talking.”
Trump’s appearance at the U.S. Women’s Open also raises longstanding concerns about his numerous conflicts of interest.
The Senior PGA Championship was held at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C., in May — and, according to the Washington Post, illustrated “how the longtime businessman has retained some of his old identity as a golf-course impresario even as he adjusts to the presidency.”
The tournament represented an opportunity for Trump’s business to obtain positive publicity, and son Eric Trump told the Post that coverage of the tournament was the “greatest marketing in the world.”
The president himself showing up at the tournament would have drawn further attention to the event, casting an even brighter spotlight on his golf courses — which have reportedly surged during his time in office.
“I think our brand is the hottest it has ever been,” Eric Trump told the New York Times in March.
Trump did not end up appearing at that tournament — but will be at the Women’s Open in Bedminster Friday afternoon.
The USGA said that it will “welcome” Trump’s visit, noting that it is the first time a sitting president will attend the tournament.
“For months we urged the USGA and LGPA to move this tournament. They ignored us,” UltraViolet’s Thomas said in a statement. “Now, they are allowing Trump to use this tournament, and sadly the players, to benefit his own self-interests.”