- Trump and a Saudi group discussed hosting a golf league at his courses, per The Washington Post.
- His courses in Bedminster, New Jersey, and Doral, Florida, are said to be in contention.
- Saudi Arabia’s human-rights abuses have made it controversial, though never seemed to worry Trump.
Former President Donald Trump is in discussions to host events at his US golf clubs for a golf league backed by Saudi Arabia, according to The Washington Post.
Citing three people familiar with the matter, The Post reported that Trump’s courses in Bedminster, New Jersey, and Doral, Florida are in the running to be used as sites for the league.
The outlet reported that the Trump Organization had spoken with LIV Golf Investments, a company backed by the Saudi state.
Trump has personally discussed the prospect with Greg Norman, the Australian former golfer who became CEO of LIV Golf Investments, an unnamed source told The Post.
Insider contacted the Trump Organization for comment early Sunday, but did not immediately receive a response. LIV Golf Investments was unavailable for comment.
Neither body responded to The Post either. A spokesman for Trump’s Save America PAC said that such a deal “sounds possible.”
Any decision to host the Saudi-backed golf league at Trump properties would be a controversial one.
Amnesty International has, in the past, accused Saudi Arabia of “sportswashing,” the practice of associating itself with popular sports contests to distract from its deficiencies elsewhere.
According to Amnesty, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s top executioners, freedom of speech is extremely limited, women are widely discriminated against, and LGBTQ people face capital punishment.
Saudi Arabia’s reputation hit a new low with the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 by Saudi agents. US intelligence officials concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered his death.
At the time of the killing, President Trump refused to blame the crown prince and defended the closeness of US-Saudi relations. In the past, Trump has referred to bin Salman as a “friend.”
The Saudi golf project is causing controversy beyond a potential Trump tie-up.
Pro golfer Phil Mickelson told his biographer that he is willing to support the league, per the New York Post.
He said he was willing to overlook Saudi Arabia’s “horrible” human rights record, and the murder of Khashoggi, because of the commercial opportunity it represented.
According to the paper, Mickelson said: “Why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”