BEDMINSTER, N.J. — A handful of protesters were present at the U.S. Women’s Open at Trump National Golf Club on Sunday, buying $45 tickets to the event and making themselves visible during the tournament’s final round.
Representing a few different groups, protesters silently rallied against the U.S. Golf Association’s decision to hold the tournament at a property owned by President Trump, who was viewing the action from an elevated, enclosed viewing area for the third consecutive day. Four protesters from UltraViolet, a women’s advocacy group, wore purple shirts that read, “USGA: Dump Sexist Trump” and stood as close to Trump’s viewing area as security permitted.
The USGA awarded the tournament to the Bedminster club in 2012, and his presence has been a topic of conversation all week. On Saturday, American golfers Paula Creamer, Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr all visited Trump in his viewing area throughout the day.
After Trump was shown making lewd comments about women in a leaked “Access Hollywood” tape, UltraViolet started urging the USGA to move the event. The USGA said it was too late to do so, according to Emma Boorboor, an UltraViolet campaign director. USA Today reported last Monday that Trump threatened to sue the USGA if it moved the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open from Bedminster.
On Sunday, five members of the group capped a weekend of protests by attending the tournament. Boorboor said the group chose to protest silently so it didn’t disrupt the golfers, who she said “have already been put in a tough enough position by having to play at this course.”
“This is a personal statement I am making. Like millions of women and men, I am a survivor of multiple instances of sexual harassment and sexual assault,” said Hope Singsen, an UltraViolet volunteer from New York City. “I am here to express my disgust that the USGA is using a women’s sport as a platform to celebrate, license, legitimize and elevate a sexual predator. And this is the first time that I am actually speaking publicly about my past experiences.”
UltraViolet’s day started with a rally at a nearby Bedminster library and then a “motorcade” on the street used to drive up to the club’s entrance. They lined up about 40 cars and drove around 2 mph to slow traffic in front of the event. They received permission from Bedminster police to do so but then were pulled over by New Jersey state troopers, who eventually told them to go about their business.
The five UltraViolet members — who were joined in protest by two New Jersey advocacy groups — entered the course around 2 p.m. and hung around the clubhouse area, between the green at hole 15 and the tee at hole 16, in the hope that Trump would see them. Melissa Byrne, a consultant for campaigning for UltraViolet, said the group was small because other protesters were worried about being around Trump supporters.
While standing by the clubhouse, they were moved back by security but not asked to move. At one point, the group said Trump looked at them and gave them a thumbs up. Byrne motioned as if she were watching him, touching two fingers to her eyes and pointing at him, and said she and Trump made eye contact.
“If you look at the imagery of how this is a national sports event, with the president at the main event of the sports event, in his own golf course, own private property, it’s a little bit of a theocracy,” said Abraham Gutman, an immigrant from Israel who lives in Philadelphia. “It’s an image of not a democracy. That’s not how you imagine things happening.
“A big part of democracy is First Amendment rights and to protest and to exercise it. And to remind Trump that when he literally admitted to sexually assaulting women on the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, he can’t try to make this a victory lap for supporting women, who are, by the way, underpaid and underrepresented on TV and in sports.”
The group said it did not face much aggression from Trump supporters, who have been lining up to snap photos and wave to Trump over the past three days. Before walking around the course, the four UltraViolet members wearing “USGA: Dump Sexist Trump” shirts lined up for a photo with another protester from New York.
Before Boorboor took the picture, a young boy with a white “TRUMP” hat stepped in front of the camera and spread his arms in the air. A second later, a young girl with a blue “Trump: Make America Great Again” shirt stepped in front of the boy.
“This has been happening a lot,” Boorboor said. “It’s funny: The thing the Trump supporters here are most worried about is us talking to reporters. I guess it makes sense given who they support.”