With rhetoric on immigrants, Trump risks teeing off golf industry

Tue Jul 7, 2015 8:20pm EDT
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By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Donald Trump's self-styled "fabulous world of golf" faces the possibility of being a lot less fabulous after his disparaging remarks about illegal immigrants.

Trump, the billionaire real estate developer and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, has his trademark name on numerous buildings around the world. But he is perhaps proudest of his involvement in golf and is considered a savior in many circles for investing in the industry at a time when many golf courses are closing due to financial pressures.

Trump now has 18 courses, with a string of major tournaments lined up at some. A solid player himself, he boasts a handicap in the single digits. For a while, the Golf Channel ran a regular show called "Donald J. Trump's Fabulous World of Golf."

He renovated the famous Doral course in Miami and played host there in March to a World Golf Championship tournament in which Rory McIlroy, after an errant shot, slung a 3-iron into a pond. Trump sent a scuba diver out to retrieve the club and gave it back to the world No. 1.

"What he's been doing is terrific for the game," legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus was quoted as saying by USA Today around the time of the Doral tournament. "He brought a new life during a time when the game was struggling."

So it has been jarring to the golf world when Trump declared as part of his presidential campaign that Mexico is sending criminals into the United States. It comes as the golf industry is trying to encourage diversity in a white-dominated sport.

The PGA of America and Trump's organization announced on Tuesday that the 2015 Grand Slam of Golf, featuring a handful of top pro golfers in a 36-hole tournament, at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles would be moved.

The PGA group said it was also looking at other venues for its junior PGA event this year.   Continued...

Businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets supporters during a back-yard reception in Bedford, New Hampshire, June 30, 2015.  REUTERS/Dominick Reuter