LIV Golf plans 2023 tournament at Trump course in Sterling

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A controversial professional golf tour is bringing one of its 2023 events to a Northern Virginia course that has itself been the center of controversy.

LIV Golf, the tour backed by Saudi Arabians that started last year to compete with the PGA Tour, announced this week that one of its 2023 tournaments will be held at Trump National Golf Club in the Sterling area of Loudoun County.

The event, LIV Golf DC, is scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, May 26-28.

LIV has attracted some of professional golf’s top players, including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson Dechambeau, Patrick Reed and Cameron Smith, by offering multimillion-dollar bonuses and the opportunity to play fewer tournaments with larger purses.

Each of the LIV events is only 54 holes, played over three days, while PGA tournaments are usually 72 holes over four days.  Fields are smaller — generally 48 players — and all start each round at the same time on different holes, known as a “shotgun start.”  The LIV events also include a team competition.

LIV is financed by the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia and has been criticized as a ploy by the Saudis to improve their image amid charges of corruption and human rights abuses.

The tour’s 14-event schedule for 2023 includes appearances at two other courses owned by former President Donald Trump: Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey in August and Trump National Doral in Miami in October. An event also is planned in August at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.

The Trump National course in Sterling hosted the PGA Senior Championship in 2017; however, the PGA has since moved events away from Trump’s courses, including the 2022 PGA Championship, originally scheduled to be played at Bedminster. 

Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. (Courtesy Trump National Golf Club)

Trump National is located on 800 acres along the Potomac River in northeastern Loudoun and has two 18-hole courses. Trump bought the club, formerly known as the Lowes Island Club, in 2013 from a bank after the previous owner defaulted on loans. He initiated a series of renovations of the course and clubhouse that were completed in 2015.

During the renovations, a controversy arose about the removal of trees along the river. The Trump organization said the trees were stressed and eroding the soil.

During his presidency, from 2017 to 2021, Trump frequently played golf at the Sterling club, often drawing protestors outside the gates. The most notable of those was Juli Briskman, who in November 2017 was photographed displaying a middle finger to Trump’s motorcade. She wound up running for, and winning, a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in 2019.

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