Plan to honor Trump with banquet becomes flashpoint at one of America's most elite golf clubs

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Winged Foot Golf Club in the northern suburbs of New York City is one of the most prestigious country clubs in the U.S. Membership is by invitation only, the waiting list is as long as a decade, and when people do get in, they reportedly pay $200,000 just for the initiation fee. It was the site of last year's U.S. Open tournament.

Now it has become the latest battlefront in the wars over former President Donald Trump, who has been a member of the club for more than 50 years.

Some members of Winged Foot who want to honor Trump have made quiet plans for a fancy tribute banquet at the club on Aug. 4. And that has provoked outrage from other members who think such an honor is inappropriate and are trying to get the banquet canceled. So far, they have not succeeded.

For some club members, it is a point of pride that one of their own was president. The dinner is being hosted by fellow member Ted Virtue, a longtime Trump ally, who is expected to play a round with Trump and investor Paul Queally beforehand.

But some members are furious that the club is moving forward with the plan to honor Trump, according to two sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Those members were angered and disgusted by Trump's role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and his treatment of racial and ethnic minorities, according to a club member who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retribution from fellow members. Queally repeatedly has been criticized over the years for making misogynistic, homophobic and anti-minority remarks.

The anti-Trump club members have not taken aggressive action to stop the banquet, but they have informally asked members of the board to intervene — to no avail. They believe they are speaking on behalf of employees of the club who are afraid that speaking out would cost them their jobs, the member said.

All of that makes the plan to celebrate Trump a flashpoint.

"The rich Republican Trumper members think it's great to feast the insurrectionist," the club member said. "Pathetic!"

A spokeswoman for Trump did not respond to a request for comment about the banquet and the battle over it.

It is not the first time Trump's relationship with the golfing world has been a source of controversy — nor is it Winged Foot's first experience with Trump troubles.

Republican members of the club were incensed when it declined entreaties to hang a portrait of Trump in 2017. Then-President Barack Obama was not allowed to play either of the club's courses when his aides sought tee times for him over Labor Day weekend in 2014 because of the inconvenience it would cause other members.

U.S. Open - Round Two (Jamie Squire / Getty Images file)
U.S. Open - Round Two (Jamie Squire / Getty Images file)

Winged Foot, which is in Mamaroneck, in Westchester County, had "no comment" about the latest dust-up, said a person who answered the phone at the club and then hung up.

"Club management AND board praying it comes and goes unnoticed," a club member said in a text message. "All pretty hush-hush, and no club announcement. But Secret Service will have to close down some of the course."

In January, the PGA of America backed out of its agreement to play a championship event at Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course next year, the second time it had canceled a tournament planned for a Trump property.

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