On Sunday, the U.S. Women’s Open Golf Tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, nearly made history.
With little left to play, 17-year-old amateur Hye-Jin Choi tied the leaders. If she’d pulled ahead, she would have been the first amateur to win the tournament since 1967. If she’d held on, perhaps this year’s U.S. Women’s Open Championship would be remembered for something besides the time a man who has said he hates women’s faces, blood, and voices hosted the most prestigious women’s golf event in the world.
President Donald Trump didn’t seem bothered by the awkwardness of the setup. It meant the world was paying attention to his property, to him. And an amateur nearly upset a field rich with professionals. This excited the Donald Trump, for obvious reasons.
Alas, Choi couldn’t hold on. Tour rookie Sung Hyun Park pulled it out in the end, dashing the possibility that Trump would have a new ham-fisted anecdote he’d be able to trot out in stories that were ultimately about himself. An amateur beating all the pros her first time out! Think of it!
If Trump had thought harder, he could have made a self-referential metaphor of the story of Park, who first rose to fame in her native South Korea as a member of the Olympic archery team before giving golf a try. But perhaps that’s too subtle.
President Trump is a lot of things, but subtle is not one of them. Like a Kakapo parrot at a kitten day care, he cannot help being the loudest noise wherever he goes.
In the tournament pro shop, golf fans scraped plastic hangers of Trump-branded shirts along metal racks. The Trump name got larger and more prominent on the clothing the farther shoppers proceeded from the entrance. In the front of the store, the Trump Bedminster logo was tasteful and small, where a Lacoste alligator might normally reside.
In the back, all design caution had been thrown to the wind, and the clothing said, simply, TRUMP. One design featured the Trump family crest, the one that is perhaps lifted from another family crest, inside the U of TRUMP like a branding version of standing between two mirrors. Perhaps the was an even tinier TRUMP inside the second TRUMP, and it just went on and on forever.
The president’s team announced today that next week will be Made In America week, but apparently that announcement didn’t reach the pro shop. Like Ivanka’s line of clothing and much of Donald Sr.’s eponymous supply chain, clothing at the tournament was made in Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, and China. Made in America? Weak.
Out of the air conditioning and into the oven-hot air, Trump was everywhere, even when he was out of sight.
He lorded over crucial moments in the tournament from an odd temporary viewing tent, like a pontiff in a popemobile that had been stripped of parts at a stoplight, a red “Make America Great Again hat plopped on his head. His wheelless Trumpmobile sat conveniently close to the clubhouse where VIPs and corporate sponsors and acolytes congregated in the air conditioning. He announced Friday he’d be popping into his property, Saturday night, he went over to say hello to some of the guests.
Outside of the clubhouse of stock market winners, golf fans were not discussing the stock market. They congregated beneath sparse trees to watch the best women in the world crown a champion. They fought over folding chairs in the air conditioned Trophy Club near the 18th green, trying their best to keep their polo shirts free of juice from the Ruth’s Chris steak sandwiches available for purchase at the concession stand. They muttered about protesters, spoke about their children’s out-of-college jobs at Deloitte.
One woman, perhaps unaware of how loudly she was speaking, announced to her two companions that Barron Trump does not like golf as much as his father wishes he did. A man in a white Make America Great Again zoomed down a path on a Rascal scooter. A man with a deeply tanned face smuggled his pale and clearly underaged son an IPA and the young man repressed a grimace as he drank it.
“That’s nice,” said one man to another as a professional golfer with a thick blonde rope of a braid bent over to retrieve a ball. His companion laughed appreciatively. It was, indeed, a human butt.
Turns out, an 800-pound gorilla can dominate both a room and a golf course. The USGA awarded Trump National the U.S. Women’s Open back in 2012, before Trump’s pervasive sexism was a matter of national concern. Still, women’s groups encouraged the organization to drop Bedminster during Trump’s presidential run, citing his misogyny.
Protesters, undaunted, showed up to Trump National to wage their discontent this weekend, spelling out messages with T-shirts and emphatic signs and pink umbrellas.
In order to get anywhere near the action, protesters would have needed to pay. Single-day tickets that didn’t come with access to the air-conditioned Trophy Club cost $25 and $45 for each day of the opening and championship rounds, respectively. To circumvent paying a fee to convey that they believe that somebody does not deserve to make money from an event, protesters demonstrated outside of the grounds on Sunday.
That morning, a new poll showed that President Trump’s approval rating had dipped to a harrowing 36 percent. It’s the lowest approval rating of a president six months into his tenure in 70 years.
Rather than feeling chastened, Trump followed his ego. Like heated gas, it expanded to fill its container, it rolled across the fairways and greens, it colored everything he saw.
“Thank you to all of the supporters, who far out-numbered the protesters, yesterday at the Women’s U.S. Open. Very cool!” Trump tweeted. It apparently did not occur to him that most of the people at the U.S. Women’s Open tournament weren’t there to specifically support him, but rather to watch women play golf.