When you’re in business with Donald Trump

Sports journalist Christine Brennan asks officials at the U.S. Golf Association, assembled to speak at the opening news conference before the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National, if the USGA has a position on sexual assault. You’d think it would be a softball question, wouldn’t you…but no.

But when you’re in business with Donald Trump, the man who appeared on the infamous Access Hollywood videotape bragging that he could sexually assault women without having to worry about the ramifications, your values start to fade.

Your principles waver. Your admirable efforts to try to attract women and girls to a game with a long history of discriminatory and exclusionary practices run head-long into your need to prostrate yourself at Trump’s feet.

And so, in what was a truly remarkable moment in sports news conference lore, three supposed leaders of the USGA sat dumbfounded, unable to utter even one word against sexual assault, while the fourth, a spokeswoman, said the foursome was there to talk about “the golf competition,” but would be happy to discuss the “important question …afterwards.”

Hours later there was an email response saying the necessary things…now that no one was watching any more.

This at a time when golf in the US is not doing as well as you’d think with all these billionaires around.

The game isn’t going away, but it’s certainly not growing. In fact, with the Tiger and Phil era now just about over, TV ratings are falling — as participation has for the better part of a decade.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to former LPGA Commissioner Charlie Mechem, a beloved steward of the game, who said this in an April LPGA news release:

“Although the game of golf is enjoying expansion and growth in other parts of the world such as Asia, there are disturbing signs that golf and the golf business are in a rather precipitous decline in the United States. We must do everything we can to proactively grow the game of golf and restore this game to its rightful place as the greatest sport in the world.”

The largest untapped market for golf is girls and women, especially the daughters of Title IX, millions upon millions of them, who will remain athletic for their entire lives, presumably with a fair share of disposable income.

The USGA desperately needs at least some of them.

On Tuesday, it did everything in its power to turn them all away.

Oh well. There’s always croquet.

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