Golf is a sport for white elites.

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK -

In a 2015 in­ter­view, Trump told For­tune magazine: “Let golf be elit­ist . . . . Let peo­ple work hard and as­pire to some­day be able to play golf. To af­ford to play it.”

Cer­tainly golf once de­served that rep­u­ta­tion. And in a few places, it still does. But by and large, the game has be­come far more di­verse, far more in­clu­sive and far more wel­com­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Golf Foun­da­tion, 75 per­cent of the cour­ses in the United States are pub­lic, and the av­er­age peak-sea­son fee at those cour­ses is $38. An­nual mem­ber­ships at pri­vate clubs can run in the four and five dig­its, with ini­ti­a­tion fees go­ing even higher. But the vast ma­jor­ity of pri­vate clubs also have nondis­crim­i­na­tion poli­cies.

A ma­jor shift be­gan in 1990, when civil rights groups protested the host­ing of the PGA Cham­pi­onship at Shoal Creek Coun­try Club in Birm­ing­ham, Ala., be­cause it didn’t have any black mem­bers. In the wake of that con­tro­versy, the PGA of Amer­ica (which con­ducts the PGA Cham­pi­onship), the sep­a­rate PGA Tour and the U.S. Golf As­so­ci­a­tion let it be known that no club that dis­crim­i­nated on the ba­sis of race, reli­gion or gen­der would be al­lowed to host their tour­na­ments.

When Tiger Woods turned pro in 1996, Nike re­leased its iconic “Hello World” ad, which in­cluded the line: “There are still cour­ses in the U.S. I am not al­lowed to play be­cause of the color of my skin.” Twenty years later, those places are truly few and far be­tween.

Af­ter Trump called Mex­i­can im­mi­grants crim­i­nals and called for a ban on Mus­lims en­ter­ing the United States, the PGA Tour is­sued state­ments say­ing that “Mr. Trump’s com­ments are in­con­sis­tent with our strong com­mit­ment to an in­clu­sive and wel­com­ing en­vi­ron­ment in the game of golf.”

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