Trump Organization Reportedly Negotiating Move to Host Saudi Golf League Events
© AP Photo / Wilfredo LeeFILE - In this Nov. 20, 2019, file photo, palm trees line the entrance to Trump National Doral resort in Doral, Fla. Some furloughs at the Trump golf resort in South Florida are becoming permanent layoffs. A notice that the Trump National Doral Miami filed with the State of Florida last week says it is permanently laying off 250 workers out of 560 employees who were furloughed in March. The positions include cooks, housekeepers, servers, engineers, golf concierges and service attendants.
© AP Photo / Wilfredo Lee
According to sources, the Trump Organization, former US President Donald Trump’s company, has held talks with LIV Golf Investments, a Saudia Arabian-backed golf league, over the potential for Trump-owned golf courses to host events.
Anonymous sources have suggested that at least two of Trump’s US golf courses have been floated as sites for a new tour. His Bedminster, New Jersey, and Doral, Florida, courses appear to be the front runners.
The Trump Organization owns 11 courses in the United States, two in Scotland, and one in Ireland. The Trump National Golf Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, was designed by retired professional golfer Greg Norman, who is head of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Investments group.
LIV Golf Investments and a proposed tour funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund have been shrouded in controversy. Comments made by decorated American golfer Phil Mickelson to Alan Shipnuck, author of the upcoming Mickelson biography, “Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf's Most Colorful Superstar," made public on Thursday has increased scrutiny.
Mickelson reportedly told Shipnuck: "They're scary motherf---ers to get involved with," elaborating that "... they killed [Washington Post reporter and US resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates."
Mickelson has been a key figure in recruiting current Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour golfers to the event, and views the threat of a breakaway tour that can attract top golfers as key to gaining financial benefit for players currently on the PGA.
Trump has also had recent issues with the PGA. In 2016, as Trump was campaigning for president, the PGA moved one of its events from his Doral, Florida, golf course, and in the aftermath of the January 6 Capitol attack, the tour moved the PGA Championship away from his New Jersey golf course.
Trump’s golf courses have routinely struggled to post profits. His Doral, Florida, course reported $162.3 million in losses between 2012 and 2018 according to tax records, and, overall, he has reported $315.6 million in losses since 2000 at his golf courses.
The financial terms of a possible deal are unknown, but LIV Golf Investments has promised massive purses at golf tournaments as a means of luring the best golfers in the world away from the PGA Tour. Trump, as president, overlooked human rights concerns regarding Saudi Arabia if it benefitted his own economic interests.
Following the 2018 Khashoggi killing, there were multiple calls for Trump to come down hard on Saudi Arabia and acknowledge US intelligence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was aware of the plan to kill Khashoggi.
Trump said of Riyadh: “They have been a great ally,” adding, “I’m not going to destroy our economy by being foolish with Saudi Arabia.”
Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund finances LIV Golf Investments and is chaired by the crown prince.
LIV Golf Investments and the Trump Organization have yet to comment on the reports.