R&A announces it will not bring Open Championship back to Trump Turnberry in ‘foreseeable future’

Following the PGA of America’s removal of the 2022 PGA Championship from Trump National Golf Club Bedminster on Sunday evening, the R&A on Monday morning confirming that it have no plans to host any future Open Championships at Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Turnberry has hosted four Open Championships, most recently in 2009 when Stewart Cink beat Tom Watson in a playoff. Donald Trump purchased the property in 2014 before he became President of the United States, but the R&A made it clear on Monday that they want nothing to do with Trump after his incitement of violence preceding the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.

“We had no plans to stage any of our championships at Turnberry and will not do so in the foreseeable future,” said R&A CEO Martin Slumbers. “We will not return until we are convinced that the focus will be on the championship, the players and the course itself and we do not believe that is achievable in the current circumstances.”

This is a sharp turn for Slumbers, who said in 2016 — as Turnberry was being remodeled under Trump’s lead — that the course that had seen Tom Watson, Greg Norman and Nick Price all win majors (in addition to Cink) would likely host future Opens.

“Turnberry is, was and is, part of the pool of courses for the Open Championship,” Slumbers said in 2016. “There are at the moment nine courses, and Turnberry is one of those.”

That no longer appears to be the case as Turnberry was never added as a venue over the past five years (the R&A keeps the list of future venues shorter than other organizations) and now will not be for the foreseeable future.

The recent history of the course itself is intriguing. Originally, Trump wanted to pour nearly $300 million into the resort, though the source of the financing for improvements of Turnberry and other Trump courses in Europe came under intense scrutiny a few years into Trump’s presidency. It seems as if he settled on something more like $200 million, although again, there are many questions about where that money came from. 

Regardless, it led to a completely revitalized course and resort that received glowing reviews.

Turnberry is a marvel in every way. The resort has become one of the world’s elite again, the stuff dreamers a century ago hoped for in putting a five-star hotel on a hill overlooking a links and majestic lighthouse. Should your budget allow and your pallet call for world-class links golf, dining and accommodations, Turnberry is an essential stop. But don’t be in a hurry to leave.

Maybe more astonishing than the attention to detail and millions poured into the property is just how quickly the Trump organization, led by Trump’s son Eric on this project and retention of most key longtime staffers, dusted off the oft-renovated gem to present a high-end experience that now awaits.

Turnberry has reopened with almost no weak moments, improved views of the Firth, restoration of ancient-looking fringed bunkering and an abundance of thrilling shot-making opportunities. Furthermore, Turnberry’s dramatically revamped 9th, 10th, and 11th holes are comparable to the best trifectas in golf: Pebble Beach (7th-8th-9th), Cypress Point (15th-16th-17th) or Augusta National (11th-12th-13th).

Last year, plans for further expansion of Turnberry in the form of homes, villas and shops were revealed and received loads of pushback from folks living in Ayrshire. 

For now, it seems as if this course will remain a resort course (that apparently loses a lot of money or at least doesn’t make much) and not a major championship venue. The R&A is not in short supply of major venues, especially now that Royal Portrush — which hosted in 2019 when Shane Lowry won — is back in the mix. It’s not a leap to think that Portrush could have replaced Turnberry as the ninth course in the R&A’s rota.

The next four venues for the Open Championship include Royal St. George’s, St. Andrews, Royal Liverpool and Royal Troon. Turnberry most recently hosted the Women’s British Open, which Inbee Park won.

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