Martha Burk urges US Women’s Open to leave Trump National

AP-Womens Open Protest Golf
In this April 10, 2003, file photo, Martha Burk, center, chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations, speaks to media in Atlanta. Burk is back in golf, encouraging people to join a protest over the U.S. Women's Open being held next year at Trump National in New Jersey. She made the call for supporters in a blog for The Huffington Post on Friday, July 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregory Smith, File)

(AP) – Martha Burk is back in golf, encouraging people to join a protest over the U.S. Women’s Open being held next year at Trump National in New Jersey.

She made the call for supporters in a blog for The Huffington Post on Friday.

Burk rose to prominence in 2002 when she challenged Augusta National to end its discrimination by inviting a female member, suggesting it could become a problem at the Masters. The club chairman, Hootie Johnson, sent her a scathing reply that the club might one day have female members, but not “at the point of a bayonet.”

Augusta National didn’t budge in the wake of enormous pressure from Burk and the media, even going so far as to go commercial-free for the 2003 Masters. Burk’s protest fizzled in a grassy lot. Nine years later, the club added its first two women.

Burk remains with the National Council of Women’s Organizations as the director of its corporate accountability project.

The USGA, PGA Tour, LPGA and PGA of America released a joint statement last August to distance themselves from Donald Trump’s explosive comments about Mexican immigrants when he announced his campaign for president.

The PGA of America canceled its Grand Slam of Golf exhibition at Trump National in Los Angeles. The presumptive GOP nominee has golf courses in New Jersey and outside Washington that are to be used for the U.S. Women’s Open next year, the PGA Championship and the Senior PGA Championship.

“Seems the United States Golf Association, no stranger to hypocrisy, refuses to move next year’s U.S. Women’s Open from the Trump-owned Bedminster club, even though the USGA issued a public statement condemning Trump’s racist views after his ‘Mexican rapist’ rant when he announced his candidacy,” Burk wrote.

Burk referenced the Augusta National protest and said the USGA “ignored its prohibition against holding events at clubs that discriminate.” However, the USGA has no standing over players at the Masters. It runs 13 championships, 10 of them restricted to amateurs.

Burk said the USGA was putting “profit over principle,” and that the LPGA also was being silent on the decision.

USGA spokeswoman Janeen Driscoll said the organization is focused on “conducting the best championship we can for the players, the spectators, the fans and the volunteers, both this year and a year from now.” She noted that Bedminster is in compliance with the USGA’s anti-discriminatory member policy.

“During his presidential campaign, Mr. Trump has made some remarks that are at odds with our belief that golf should be welcoming and inclusive for all. We have reiterated that we do not share his views, and that is still true,” she said in an email.

The LPGA said all decisions about the venue for the U.S. Open are made by the USGA.

“We fully expect to keep the U.S. Women’s Open on our 2017 schedule, and support the decisions made by the USGA on this matter,” LPGA spokesman Kraig Kann said.

Burk concluded her blog by posting a link to a petition to force the USGA to play next year’s Women’s Open somewhere else.

American golfer Gerina Pillar said she preferred to stay out of the debate.

“If it’s a good course, it’s a good course,” she said from this year’s U.S. Women’s Open. “I don’t really see getting into politics. It’s just one of those things where if it’s a good course and they see it fit to host an event there, I think that that’s OK.”

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