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Stephen Gallacher column: R&A right to give Trump’s Turnberry wide berth

Donald Trump at his Trump Turnberry golf course in South Ayrshire.
Donald Trump at his Trump Turnberry golf course in South Ayrshire.

The R&A have announced that they won’t be taking The Open back to Turnberry in the foreseeable future.

The governing body has taken the decision following the furore surrounding the course’s owner, Donald Trump.

The United States president has also seen the PGA of America rip up its agreement to stage the 2022 US PGA Championship at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey.

It is the right call given the recent events in America which led to some of Trump’s social media accounts being banned.

Turnberry is a magnificent golf course, but there would be so much Trump-related baggage if it hosted a major anytime soon.

Trump’s involvement would overshadow any tournament, so it is easy to see why the R&A and the PGA of America are keen to distance themselves.

Putting his politics and recent controversies to one side, Trump’s golf courses have always been of the highest standard.

I didn’t think it would be possible to make Turnberry better but he managed to do it.

His course in Aberdeen is brilliant and so is the one in Doral.

But it doesn’t look likely that these stunning courses will get to be showcased to a global audience in the way that Trump would have hoped.

Martin Slumbers, the R&A chief executive, admitted that, until the time comes that the golf course rather than its owner is the focus, The Open won’t be played at Turnberry.

Martin Slumbers.

It is a shame for Scottish golf because Turnberry is one of the best courses on the Open rota and it is always great to see the game’s oldest major taking place in our country.

I played Turnberry just after lockdown last year and the changes implemented since Trump took over in 2014 are phenomenal.

I was amazed by how good the course was, so it is a real pity it won’t get to hold a major in the foreseeable future.

President Donald Trump plays golf at his Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida.

But Scotland still has St Andrews, Carnoustie, Muirfield and Troon which are all great courses.

I’m sure The Open will go back to Turnberry at some stage, but it looks like that will be quite a few years away.

We want our majors to stand on their own right and the focus to be on the players and the golf. If Turnberry was to stage The Open this year, the press conferences and build-up would be dominated by Trump rather than the players, so it is the correct call to keep it off the rota for the time being.

Justin Thomas will hopefully learn from unacceptable and embarrassing incident

It also wasn’t a good week for the former world number one, Justin Thomas.

The American had to apologise after using a homophobic slur following a missed putt during the third round of the Sentry Tour of Champions at the Kapalua Resort in Hawaii.

He appeared to be deeply sorry and admitted the comment was unacceptable and that he was extremely embarrassed.

He knows he made a mistake and he has apologised.

It is out of character as he has been a great ambassador for golf until this incident and I’m sure he will learn from it.

Lots of restrictions in Dubai due to virus

I’m in Dubai this week getting ready for the start of the European Tour season, which begins with the Abu Dhabi Championship on January 21.

While the weather is perfect for practising, there are lots of restrictions in Dubai due to the rising numbers of coronavirus cases here.

We have to wear a mask everywhere we go – inside and outside – so we aren’t taking any chances and just sticking to the golf course and our accommodation.

I’ve been working hard on my technique over the winter months.

It looks like I may need to quarantine when I return to Scotland next month following the Saudi International, which finishes on February 7.

The situation may change before then as it is more than three weeks away, so we will just see how the land lies at that time.

Hopefully the situation has changed for the better by then.

My next scheduled tournament after the Saudi International is not until March, so I’d have time if it is necessary to quarantine in between tournaments.

It has been good to work on my game. Normally we have a couple of tournaments before the Abu Dhabi Championship, which is an $8,000,000 Rolex Series event, and you don’t want to be going into a big tournament like that feeling rusty.

I have been working hard on my technique over winter, so now I’m trying to play as many rounds as possible to build up my sharpness.

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