BEDMINSTER, N.J. – Word is Donald Trump is planning to come to his New Jersey golf course over the weekend. There’s nothing new about that; he has been here three times since becoming president in January, including a recent visit in which he was videotaped driving a golf cart on one of the greens, a serious faux pas that you don't see every day.
But this time is different. There’s a tournament going on at Trump National this week. It’s a big one, the crown jewel of women’s golf: the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open.
If Trump shows up, he will overwhelm the event. He won’t be a story. He will be the story. He will steal the spotlight from the golfers who deserve it, women who receive a fraction of the attention, and the pay, of their male counterparts.
There’s an easy way to avoid this.
Don’t come, Mr. President. Please stay away.
Stay in Paris for another day or two. Try Camp David again, or even the White House. Come here next weekend. Come every weekend after that. Just not this one.
If you show up, Mr. President, you become the ultimate distraction. Cameras that would be focused on the golfers will turn toward you. Crowds will swell to get a glimpse of you, the ultimate leader in the clubhouse, not the leaders on the course. Protesters who have been massing on social media will be thrilled to give you their opinions in person.
And one can only imagine what will happen if you head into Fox Sports’ broadcast booth and end up on the air. My goodness. Say goodbye to golf and hello to unfettered Trump.
LPGA veteran and two-time major champion Brittany Lincicome pictured all of this last month when she wisely told the Chicago Tribune that she thought it would be best for the tournament and best for the competitors if Trump didn’t show up.
"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 said. "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."
Here’s the problem with Lincicome’s intelligent answer: when has Trump ever done anything that wasn’t about him?
Which is why all indications are that he will show up to watch at least one round over the weekend.
There is a school of thought that says the appearance of the U.S. president here this weekend would be a good thing, an affirming action for female athletes who get far less attention than they deserve in a game that has a long history of discrimination and exclusion. If the president is watching, the theory goes, shouldn’t we all?
But Trump is such a polarizing and controversial figure that it’s safe to say that his presence will offend as many people as it encourages, if not more. By failing to move the tournament after the infamous Access Hollywood tape surfaced in October, the U.S. Golf Association ensured that the most important event in women’s golf would be hosted by a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women.
In the end, though, it’s all about where the cameras are focused. If they are pointed at Trump, they are not pointed at the golfers, and that will be a shame.