R&A to delay decision on Turnberry hosting the Open Championship
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 06/07/16 6:10pm
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor by attempting to delay a decision on the prospect of Turnberry staging the Open Championship.
Golf's most influential organisations have previously distanced themselves from Turnberry owner Donald Trump's comments in the wake of his views on Mexican immigrants, which were expressed when the 69-year-old announced his decision to stand for President of the United States in June last year.
The Grand Slam of Golf was moved from Trump National in Los Angeles in October, while the PGA Tour is considering alternative venues for the WGC-Cadillac Championship - currently staged at Trump's Doral course in Miami - from 2017.
Turnberry last staged the Open in 2009 and the earliest it could return is 2022, with former R&A chief executive Peter Dawson appearing happy on the eve of last year's Open at St Andrews that a decision on taking the championship to the Ayrshire venue did not have to be made "for quite some time".
Speaking at St Andrews on Monday, Slumbers confirmed that the Open would be staged in England in 2020 and at St Andrews in 2021 - to mark the 150th staging of the championship - but that Turnberry remained on the 10-strong rota.
"We have announced venues out to 2019 and we are in advanced negotiations around 2020 and 2021," Slumbers said. "That is where we are and 2022 and beyond is something we don't have to think about or consider for a few years.
"We are very focused on the venue and making sure we put on a major which is world class. The venues are really important to us, we have a pool of 10 and we take it year by year.
"We consider the venues, the macro environment around it and we make the right decisions with the championship committee around the venues that are most suited for those years.
"I think it's very important that we stay focused on the golf, that we stay focused on staging one of the world's best sporting occasions and that we do not comment on politics.
"The game is about people who enjoy playing the game and watching the best players perform on great courses. I don't think it's appropriate that we comment on political issues and that flows into the game. I think we must stay focused on the golf.
"We as an organisation have said that we believe golf should be open to all, regardless of gender, race, nationality or religion and that's where we sit."
Slumbers was at Turnberry last year when Trump's arrival during the Ricoh Women's British Open caused something of a media circus and admitted: "I'd much rather see championships focus on the golf.
"We host the Open Championship to crown the champion golfer of the year. It's much better to focus on the golf, because that's what we're there for. We have 10 courses that we think are the 10 best links courses in the country and that's where we should be staging the Open Championship."
With Turnberry out of the running until 2022 at the earliest, a repeat of the 15-year gap between Nick Price's victory there in 1994 and Stewart Cink's play-off win over Tom Watson in 2009 could be on the cards.
"Turnberry has not been a frequent place on the rota, there has been a lot of gaps in between and it would not be unusual," Slumbers added.
"The Open keeps moving forward. It's becoming a bigger and bigger event and we spend considerable amounts of money preparing the golf course and getting the infrastructure right around it.
"We are heavily focused on the number of spectators that come and want to enjoy the Open and there is no regular rhythm to where we take the courses; we are conscious of (rotating between) England and Scotland and the Old Course at St Andrews on a fairly regular basis."