Trump was spotted at his Northern Virginia golf course earlier this week.
A source told Insider that the trip was, in fact, to plan for an upcoming LIV Golf event set for May 2023.
Trump has already hosted one LIV Golf event and looks prepared to expand the relationship.
The mystery of what Donald Trump was doing at his Northern Virginia golf course earlier this week has been solved: His club is undergoing renovations ahead of a LIV Golf tournament slated for next spring, according to a source familiar with the plan.
But it turns out Trump's visit was more about golf. The Trump Organization signed a contract last fall to host three LIV events: one at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, which took place in July; another at Doral in South Florida coming up in October; and a third event, that'll take place in May 2023 at Trump National Golf Club Washington D.C., in Potomac Falls, Virginia, the source said.
Members at Trump's Virginia club have been aware for months of the preparations for an LIV event, which include plans to expand the driving range and make changes to a couple of tee boxes.
"It's like the worst kept secret in golf," said the source, who has direct knowledge of the Trump-LIV arrangement.
Trump was photographed and filmed at the course on Monday with his son Eric and several other men driving around in golf carts. While the ex-president wrote on his social media network that he was "working" at his golf course, speculation exploded on Twitter about the identities of the men and what they were doing there.
"This is much like a mob meeting, right out of the movies! Golf shirts so no wires. Move around so no unseen electronic fixes. Way out of camera range so no lip reading," John Dean, the former Nixon White House counsel who famously testified in the Watergate scandal against the president, wrote on Twitter.
—John W. Dean (@JohnWDean) September 13, 2022
But Trump's arrival was not a surprise to members of the club, who were made aware of his impending arrival last Friday, when staff were seen furiously cleaning throughout the facility.
Further, the source with knowledge of the Trump-LIV deal identified at least three of the men seen in photographs on Monday touring the course with the ex-president and Eric Trump. They include two Trump National officials: general manager Joe Roediger and grounds crew director Brad Enie.
Also in the pictures is John Copeland, the founder and president of Superior Golf Concepts. Because of Copeland's facial hair, some online sleuths mistakenly identified him as Ty Cobb, a former White House lawyer for Trump who recently called the ex-president "a deeply wounded narcissist."
Asked about the LIV-Trump arrangement and a tournament next spring in Virginia, LIV chief communications official Jonathan Grella replied, "LIV's 2023 schedule is not final, so we won't be speculating on it until it is released officially at a later date."
Spokespeople for Trump and the Trump Organization did not immediately return requests for comment.
Trump has been a big supporter of LIV Golf since the upstart league made its debut earlier this year. His Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster hosted the third event in LIV's history in July, with the former president playing a starring role in the festivities throughout the week.
"I do think that the publicity that [LIV Golf has] gotten, more than anything, has been a great thing for them," Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal ahead of the tournament. "I think the publicity they've gotten is worth billions of dollars. It's one of the hottest things to have happened in sports, and sports is a big part of life."
Backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, LIV Golf has shuffled the top tier of golf, poaching players away from the PGA Tour with huge guaranteed paydays and similarly impressive purses at tournaments.
Critics have called LIV Golf an example of "sportswashing" — capitalizing on the public's love of sport to help launder the image of Saudi Arabia and its history of human rights violations on the international stage.
Before signing up to host the LIV event, Trump Bedminster had been set to host the 2022 PGA Championship, one of golf's four majors. But after the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the PGA of America, a separate entity from the PGA Tour that runs the PGA Championship, decided it best to relocate the tournament.
With the PGA Tour no longer interested, Trump turned his attention to LIV Golf, which has already proved to be a profitable partnership for the former president.
According to longtime golf writer Alan Shipnuck, the numbers are a bit murky when it comes to just how much Trump was paid to host his first LIV event. "Trump Bedminster was paid $2.8 million (according to the Trump Organization) or $4.5 million (according to club members)," Shipnuck wrote in his recap of the tournament.
Whatever the final numbers were, it appears the deal is set to grow, with LIV expanding its schedule to 14 events next year, including the one that Trump was preparing for at his Virginia course.
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