News & ToursFebruary 17, 2011

USGA weighing Trump NJ as backup Open site

Donald Trump would like nothing more than to have a U.S. Open -- or a U.S. Women's Open -- at one of his golf courses. When the USGA held the boys and girls junior championship at Trump Bedminster in 2009, it was a good sign. There were more positive vibes coming from USGA headquarters in Far Hills, N.J. recently when it was discussed that the Bedminister facility in New Jersey might be designated as an emergency backup site in case a natural or man-made disaster should make a designated facility unusable.

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According to sources familiar with the situation, the question of making Bedminster a U.S. Open backup facility was talked about among a few top USGA officials late in 2010. The sources said Trump was very receptive to the idea of being an emergency backup and viewed it as affirmation that Bedminister is a championship-caliber facility. While acknowledging that there were talks about the need for a backup U.S. Open site, and that the Trump facility did come up, the USGA says the discussions were preliminary and that no decision has been made.

"The subject of 'what if Armageddon happens' has been discussed," USGA director of competitions Mike Davis told GolfDigest.com. "What if all 18 greens are dead; what if there is vandalism beyond repair; what if the weather is so bad the week of the US Open -- flooding -- you can't play; what if 9/11 happened the week of the U.S. Open? We have had this conversation the entire 21 years I have been here."

The PGA of America owns Valhalla in Kentucky and would have an emergency course it could stick into the rotation. The USGA was faced with a situation of near-disaster proportions in 2004, when Lake Merced CC in California was unable to fulfill its commitment to be the site of the U.S. Women's Open. It was fortunate to be able to find an emergency backup in The Orchards in South Hadley, Mass., that proved to be more than adequate. But a U.S. Open -- with its need for expansive corporate hospitality areas -- is a much more demanding project.

"At the end of last year, we talked about [an emergency backup] more specifically,'" Davis said. "If the U.S. Open didn't happen, the USGA would go away. That's what funds the organization. It was being responsible to have these talks. But we have not even had initial meetings [on a site]. It is way premature to say that any decisions have been made."

And what about the Trump course?

"The name Trump came up," Davis said. "Bedminister is literally next door to the USGA headquarters and that would be convenient. But it is way premature to say that any decision has been made."

For Trump, however, such a decision may be beside the point. The fact that the name of one of his courses has even appeared in the same sentence with the words "U.S. Open" could be considered a victory in itself.

-- Ron Sirak

(Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

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