Golf is a sport for white elites.
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.”