If USGA needs pinch-hitter, Trump is ready

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

It looks like carefully calibrated mutual interest might just bring together two powerful golf forces in New Jersey.

It’s no secret that Donald Trump wants his Trump National Club in Bedminster, N.J. to hold a U.S. Open. Now it turns out that the U.S. Golf Association is considering looking for a backup site for a U.S. Open should some calamity arise that knocks it out of commission.

According to a memo circulated through USGA Golf House in early December, the USGA is exploring whether it needs to have a contingency plan in case some unforeseen development – be it a massive storm, terrorist attack or a major agronomic problem – renders the primary host course inoperable for the week. With the U.S. Open a major profit center for the USGA as well as its most prestigious tournament, “to not have a backup plan is irresponsible,” said one official. “We owe it to the USGA and to the game.”

Since the advent of the U.S. Open in 1895, the national championship was canceled only during times of world war (1917-18 and 1942-45). Nevertheless, USGA officials are starting to explore the logistics of such a contingency plan. Though no meetings have been held yet and discussions are only preliminary, attention already is focusing on the Trump National facility, which is only six miles from USGA headquarters. In 2009, the 36-hole facility was home simultaneously to the U.S. Junior Amateur and the U.S. Girls’ Junior. The Tom Fazio-designed Old Course is ranked No. 51 on the Golfweek’s Best Modern list and has been discussed as a potential future U.S. Open venue.

If Trump National were to be selected as the emergency pinch-hitter site, the USGA championship team would develop a site-preparation plan and treat it as if it were a U.S. Open site. According to the USGA, Trump responded to the idea as a true New York Yankees fan, though he was referring to a closer when he was asked about being a pinch-hitter. “I love Mariano Rivera,” he told the USGA.

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