The head of the PGA of America said Wednesday that while the organization is opposed to North Carolina’s House Bill 2, there remain no plans to move the 2017 PGA Championship from Charlotte.
But Pete Bevacqua, CEO of the PGA of America, also didn’t rule out the possibility of withholding future PGA events from North Carolina if the law isn’t repealed.
“We’re opposed to it,” Bevacqua said Wednesday at Baltusrol, site of this week’s PGA Championship. “We are going to stay opposed to it. We’re going to do everything we can within our power to make this as inclusive a championship as possible. We’ll cross those bridges and deal with those hurdles when they come. We hope it changes.”
Bevacqua’s comments were similar to a statement released by the PGA of America last week after the NBA announced it was moving the 2017 All-Star Weekend out of Charlotte over concerns about the state law.
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HB2, a reaction to a Charlotte ordinance that extended nondiscrimination protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, mandates that transgender individuals must use the bathrooms in government buildings that correspond to the gender identity on their birth certificates. HB2 also sets a statewide definition of nondiscrimination that excludes gender identity and sexual orientation.
“We are trying to do everything we can, as part of our strategic plan for our organization of golf, to make the game as inclusive as possible,” Bevacqua said. “We’re not perfect. We’re trying. We thought it was important that we voiced our opinion.
“It’s also to be noted, (Quail Hollow Club) is a private facility. So we intend to do everything within our power to make it a welcoming and an inclusive environment. We have every intention of having our restroom policy be like it is every year: where you use the restroom you identify with. That’s our stance.”
Quail Hollow President Johnny Harris, who is at Baltusrol, agrees with Bevacqua.
“(The PGA) has never said anything that I didn’t support,” Harris said. “I certainly understand their position. Our job has always been to have the best PGA Championship as possible, and our Quail Hollow facility will allow us to do that. So I don’t have a problem with that at all.”
Bevacqua said the PGA of America “took notice” of the NBA’s decision.
“Quail Hollow has been terrific,” he said. “We made this decision well in advance of HB2. We’ll continue to let people know where we stand and what our mindset is. We’ll continue to be vocal about our opposition. We hope (the law) changes.
“We want the game of golf to be as inclusive as possible. We can only control so much. We can’t control the policies, rules and regulations around the country, municipalities and states. We’ll try to make that PGA Championship like we do every PGA Championship: inclusive and shine a great light on our organization and the game of golf.”
Harris has long been a major player in helping to bring major sports events to Charlotte. The ACC, which holds its football championship game at Bank of America Stadium, has said it would consider keeping future championship events out of North Carolina if the law isn’t repealed. The NCAA recently announced it will require potential hosts to show how they will create an environment that is “safe, healthy and free of discrimination.”
“I’ve been very involved with other leaders in all areas of sports and business to work with our legislature to modify or change or solve this problem, which has been a train wreck,” Harris said. “Nobody calculated how much of a train wreck it is.
“All of these organizations that I’m continuing to try convince to move to North Carolina are deeply concerned with HB2. Each is dealing with it in its own way. My job is to try and show them this is an aberration and for us to move forward and make this a positive, not a negative.”