You forget sometimes just how badly money loves money. Whereas most of us associate the having of money with security, it’s remarkable just how insecure and weak-kneed it can make those who have a bit of it in the face of those who have a lot of it. The more you make, the better disposed you are to cosying up to them that make more.
How else to explain the golf world's lovesick inability to wash itself of Donald Trump this past month? What does he bring to the sport other than the money he makes out of it? And who else only those who already make a decent living out of it has to think for more than a couple of seconds before knowing that golf should have nothing to do with him?
To recap. Trump is running for president in the US. In an opening address on June 16th that was aggressively arseholic even for him, he dove into his putative immigration policy thusly: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best . . . They’re sending people that have a lot of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
So far, so Trump. The level of fire and furore that has rained down in the month since has been so hot you’d swear nobody had come across him before. In the wake of the apparent newsflash that Donald Trump Is An Attention-Seeking Buffoon, all manner of companies decided they’d rather a little less Donald in their lives. NBC, Macy’s, Univision and NASCAR all pulled their associations with him.
Golf’s response has been altogether less definitive. The
PGA of America
pulled its end-of-year Grand Slam of Golf boondoggle from Trump’s course in Los Angeles but only for 2015 and with no reference to future years. There has been no word from the PGA Tour about future tournaments on Trump courses, nor have the R&A said anything about the future of
as a host of the
. Maybe they’re waiting to be asked about it at St Andrew’s.
Be assured they will be. At the Scottish Open last week, Tom English of the BBC (and Limerick’s finest) tested the waters a little and quizzed a few players on what Trump had said. The responses he got were depressing, all the more so because they came from a cross-section of what would be considered the tour’s good guys.
“As golfers, getting involved in matters of global politics, it’s not really something we’re in a position to do,” said Graeme McDowell. “We’re not really equipped to answer those questions. All I can say is that what Mr Trump does for golf is a very great thing.
“We’re lucky to have guys like him who are willing to stick their neck out and put money back into the game especially in the last four or five years. It’s a complex political conversation that we don’t really have the tools to answer. It’s who he is. We’re a very PC world these days. It’s a tough one.”
"I'll tell you what I think," said Stephen Gallacher. "He's brilliant for golf because whenever he goes into a golf course he makes it better. I've seen that at Doral, I've seen what he's done up north in Aberdeen, it's phenomenal. He's a good guy for putting tournaments on. What he does off the course is nothing to do with me. It's none of our business."
There were others. Rickie Fowler and Jamie Donaldson said they knew nothing about it. Jimmy Walker said he tried "not to get into politics and all that stuff". Only Phil Mickelson declared himself "disappointed to hear his comments" before going on to praise Trump for investing in golf clubs during the recession.
Why is this difficult? These are all Ryder Cup players, millionaires many times over. Never mind that, they’re genuine people. You’d wear out several pair of Footjoys walking before you met a more decent guy than McDowell. So why is it so hard for him and people like him to just say that what Trump said was wrong and that golf should have nothing to do with him?
Chris Rock had a great routine one time about the difference between being rich and being wealthy. “Shaq [an American retired basketball player] is rich. The white guy who signs Shaq’s cheque every month, he’s wealthy.”
Golf is a rich sport. But it isn’t wealthy, not when you compare it to the big American sports or the Premier League. And golfers are rich. But they’re not wealthy, not when you compare them to Trump and the rest of the 1 per cent. The sport is clearly afraid he’ll up sticks and find something else to invest in.
They should dare him to do just that. Trump has invested heavily in golf for a very specific reason. He got in cheap and is delighting in making a fortune as economies recover. He says himself he doesn’t want to grow the game but rather that it should be a sport you aspire to being rich enough to play. He keeps saying these idiotic things and yet no less than our own Minister for Finance seems to find him beguiling, as evidenced by last year’s grotty red carpet knee-trembler at Shannon Airport. Money loves money. Golf can surely find another source of it beyond Donald Trump.