The 2022 PGA Championship is set to tee off this week, but not at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, and legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus isn’t happy about it.
Donald Trump’s New Jersey golf course was awarded the 2022 PGA Championship all the way back in 2014. And if you checked with the PGA on January 5, 2021, they would have acknowledged they were still planning to hold this week’s major tournament at the Trump property.
But those plans changed after the January 6, 2021 insurrection, when Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Four days later, the PGA Board of Directors made what seemed like an obvious decision and voted to terminate its agreement with Trump Bedminster, considering the then president’s role in encouraging supporters to attack the Capitol.
“I like Seth Waugh,” Nicklaus said of the PGA Tour CEO while speaking to Fire Pit Collective. “Seth didn’t need this job. He took the job because he thought he could give the PGA of America some good guidance. And I think he’s doing that.”
Nicklaus was complimentary of Waugh, but he disagreed with the decision to move the 2022 PGA Championship. And despite having ample reasoning to disassociate its brand from Trump, Nicklaus believes Waugh and the Board of Directors voted to pull the PGA Championship from Bedminster because of cancel culture.
“This move is cancel culture,” the 82-year-old 18-time major champion explained. “Donald Trump may be a lot of things, but he loves golf and he loves this country. He’s a student of the game and a formidable figure in the game. What he does in the future in golf will depend on what the cancel culture will allow him to do.”
Waugh has known Trump for 30 years and he certainly knows the former president has his share of supporters in the golf world, but as CEO of the PGA Tour, he still recognized the need to ditch Bedminster, not because of cancel culture, but because of the insurrection.
“Everybody wants to make this a political move, but we got put into a political place that was not of our own making,” Waugh told Fire Pit Collective. “My feeling was we could do existential damage to our brand by staying at Bedminster. If we stayed, the 2022 PGA would be about its ownership. People would think we were making a statement by staying there. I felt like we could do permanent damage to the brand if we stayed. As did the board.”
The 82-year-old Nicklaus has long been a friend and supporter of Donald Trump. Shortly before the 2020 presidential election, Nicklaus endorsed Trump, tweeting a six-paragraph letter encouraging others to vote the 45th president of the United States into the White House for a second term. Nicklaus’s support of Trump has not waivered, telling The Washington Post last summer, “I think he did a really, really good job.”
Despite pushback from Nicklaus, the 2022 PGA Championship will begin Thursday morning at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma.