Golf Inc. Summit courts controversy with Trump, GolfNow keynotes

Can golf and politics be separate? 

Golf Inc. magazine, which runs an annual summit featuring golf’s leading operators and experts, believes wholeheartedly it can.

The magazine's annual Summit will feature Eric Trump, son of President Donald Trump, and a keynote with a GolfNow executive. Both keynotes are scheduled for the third day of the Summit, which runs from Sept. 23-25th at Ritz Carlton Lake Oconee in Georgia. 

They are among the leaders in the golf industry, which, though rebounding from the recession, still has challenges. So their insight is both important and impactful, the magazine leadership asserts. The magazine has received complaints, primarily from people who are opposed to President Trump. 

“This is the only event in the golf industry that is run by a journalism company, and it is our duty to focus on what the industry is talking about, and not just play it safe,” said Jack Crittenden, president and editorial director of Golf Inc. “We have covered a lot of controversial topics over the years, and have been jeered for our coverage of Donald Trump, GolfNow, and even Tiger Woods, when we named him architect of the year. But I believe it is because we cover unpopular or controversial topics that has led to our long-term resiliency and success.” 

This year’s Summit follows that same approach. Golf Inc. surveys past attendees and potential attendees to determine the leading voices in the industry. The editorial staff then puts together the speaker line-up using those results. 

This year, that led to an invite to the Trump organization to speak. Eric Trump, son of Donald Trump, agreed to speak about the company’s golf business, which he runs. 

“We have received complaints,” Crittenden said. “Some people feel we should not give him a venue.”

Crittenden said he understands their feelings, but as a journalistic organization his company has a different view. 

“I am interviewing Eric Trump as a journalist,” he said. “We are not focusing on his father or politics, but on Trump Golf. There is no organization in the golf industry that has undergone such dramatic change and challenges. That make’s it very newsworthy and, in the end, that’s what matters to us.”  

Trump Golf has nearly 20 courses, spanning the globe, from Scotland to Los Angeles. A number have been honored as some of golf’s best. To ignore such an entity — because of politics — would be disservice to the magazine’s mission. 

Crittenden also invited Mike Hendrix with GolfNow to speak on a keynote. Hendrix spoke at last year’s summit as a panelist and received high grades from attendees. While many respect Hendrix, there is still a contingency in the industry that has problemss with GolfNow's business practice of trading software for open rounds, and then selling those rounds at a discount. 

“While we understand that some would prefer we not give them such prominent place at our event, we are focused on presenting the cutting-edge to our attendees and GolfNow and the GolfChannel are right at that edge," Crittenden said. "You may not like one of the ways they approach their business. But that doesn't mean you won't learn from them.”  

Crittenden’s father, Alan, started the Golf Inc. Summit in 1988 as a way to support golf course developers. The focus of the event expanded in the 1990s to include golf management and operations. Jack Crittenden took over Golf Inc. magazine in 1998 and has run it as an independent journalism magazine committed to editorial integrity. 


Yes. Golf and politics can be separate. I look forward to hearing both of Golf Inc's Key Note speakers.

Unbelievable what people cry about these days. The concept is free speech! Not speech I don't want to hear. Thanks Jack for standing up to the haters. For no other reason than his last name is Trump, people want to deny others the insight he has that others look forward to hearing about.

The overwhelming majority of greenskeeping staff at Trump Golf properties has come from immigrant labor, some of which includes undocumented immigrant labor. Please ask Trump Golf how it considers federal immigration policy when hiring for greenskeeping staff and whether the current policies have had a fiscal impact on Trump Golf.

I'm really tired of people not willing to hear anything The President or his family members have to say about any topic! Let's face it, The Trump brand is an owner and developer of fine championship caliber golf courses, plain and simple. Eric's golf industry business insight as a globetrotting developer should embraced.

Kudos to you, Jack! You have never been one to make a decision based on what others think. You have always based your decision on what is right. The Trump organization is highly regarded as a "player" in the golf business. Anyone who disputes this is only fooling themselves. They are definitely relevant and deserve respect and praise for their involvement in the golf business. We all know that most developers are in the golf business to just sell lots and get out. The Trumps seem to have a robust appetite for the business, as well as the game of golf. Jack, keep being you and ignore the naysayers!

We have become a country that for many can't tolerate a difference of opinion or views. I believe Eric Trump is there to speak out the golf industry and not politics. Thanks for standing firm and not being bullied into switching speakers.

Please ask him where they got the money from to buy these properties. Is it all Russian? From money laundering at their hotels? Since they all lose millions a year, how do they support this business plan? Thank you.

Yes it’s bullshit you have a Trump as guess speaker, golf business aside you are placing politics in this seminar. I hope you will see your error with your decreased attendance. To say this is an “industry” decision is crap. The golf industry for years has known that The Trumps are liars and frauds. For you to perpetuate that by having one as a speaker is really stupid. None of the rest of us in the business can get away with their shit. Have fun with with this!

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