Miami Heat Moves Golf Meet from Trump-Owned Course—And They’re Not Unique

President Trump Addresses the Issues.” Credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

October 17, 2017; Washington Post

The Miami Heat, an NBA men’s basketball team, has determined that their annual golf tournament will not be held at President Trump’s Doral golf course in 2018. They did not provide a reason for changing golf courses after four years of steady use.

“We’re not getting into it,” the team spokesman said to Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold. (He reportedly refused to offer his name.) The Trump Organization did not respond. But, do we need an explanation? In September, we covered the story of a triathlon that tried to move ahead with its event at a Trump golf course in North Carolina, only to find that its participation rate was too meager to allow the event to continue. This happened shortly after nearly every charitable event scheduled for Mar-a-Lago had been cancelled for the 2017 season.

In this case, though, the Heat Scramble, or the Heat Golf Classic, has been held at the Doral golf resort near Miami even before Trump purchased the course from a bankruptcy sale in 2012. The basketball team raises money for their Miami Heat Charitable Fund, a fund in the community foundation, the Miami Foundation. The foundation would not list the expenses incurred by the golf event, and there is no detailed list of investors and donors in the 990 to provide information on separate funds. The Miami Heat does run two other events, a family carnival and a gala.

Sixteen out of 18 men’s pro teams have stopped using Trump hotels. Five out of seven sports teams that once held golf events at Trump courses will now hold them elsewhere. However, only one team, professional soccer’s L.A. Galaxy, was explicit that it was avoiding the Trump politics by moving away from his golf course.

The president has been at odds with professional teams for several reasons. Among those is the public feud with the NBA Golden State Warriors, where he revoked an invitation to visit the White House, and his beef with football players kneeling during the national anthem.

“Whether you agree with him or not, that’s not how we want our leader to be speaking in that vulgarity and explicitness,” Heat forward Justise Winslow told the Miami Herald in late September, more than a month after the Heat’s most recent tournament at Trump Doral.

Winslow was one of several players, along with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who was critical of Trump’s remarks. Winslow said that if the Heat were good enough to win next year’s championship, he “wouldn’t be the first guy on that bus” to Washington.

The Philadelphia Flyers attempted to move their Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation fundraiser tournament away from the Trump course in Southern New Jersey after the president’s comments about the violent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, but could not find another option on short notice. As for next year? “No decision yet,” the president and chief executive of the Flyers’ foundation, Scott Tharp, wrote in an email this week. “We are exploring options.”

Considering the problems of this particular presidency, it is probably wise for any nonprofit to consider such fallout from location early and systematically.—Marian Conway