Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin says he’ll give up his membership at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville if it doesn’t invite President Barack Obama to join.
In an open letter sent to club President Barry Forman, Slavin waded into what appears to be an ongoing controversy among club members over whether Obama should be rejected as a member because of the United States’ recent refusal to block an anti-Israel vote in the United Nations.
The New York Post reported Tuesday that Obama, should he apply once he becomes a private citizen, could be rejected for membership at the elite club because of members’ concerns. Salon.com, The Jerusalem Post and a couple of golfing publications picked up on the tabloid’s story. However, there has been no confirmation from the club that Obama has applied to become a member.
Club General Manager Brian Pizzimenti did not return a phone call Thursday.
“It is my hope that these reports are inaccurate because such intolerance is unacceptable,” Slavin, a lifetime club member, wrote in his letter. “In addition, I was not aware that political positions were in any way a criteria for membership.
At this time it is my hope that you will take action immediately to erase this emerging permanent stain on The Club's stellar reputation. I would urge The Club to reach out to the President and invite him to join. It is important that people all over the world know that Woodmont Country Club is a welcoming place.”
Slavin reiterated his position in a phone interview Thursday. “If they don't get this resolved, I'm quitting the place,” he said.
In his letter, Slavin said he would be forced to organize a mass cancellation or boycott of the club.
“I know that there are scores of members who share my view–of all political persuasions,” Slavin wrote.
Obama, an avid golfer, and his family plan to remain in Washington once he leaves office on Jan. 20, and it is generally expected that he will join a local country club with a golf course.
Forward, a website that covers “issues, ideas and institutions that matter to American Jews,” quoted former Politico columnist Mike Allen in July that “the smart money” is on Woodmont. Other area country clubs, such as the Burning Tree Club and Chevy Chase Country Club, “are unlikely choices due to a history of discrimination and a ‘snooty’ feel,” the website wrote.
But if the president’s future country club isn’t well sourced, that hasn’t stopped commenters on the Woodmont Facebook page. Some commenters defended the decision, if there was one, to bar Obama because of the U.N. vote. On Dec. 23, the U.S. abstained when the U.N. Security Council voted to adopt a resolution that condemned the construction of Israeli settlements. Others on the Facebook thread pointed out the irony that Woodmont was founded by Jews because they weren’t allowed to join other country clubs.
News outlets have reported that Woodmont charges an $80,000 initiation fee and annual dues of $9,673.
Slavin said a person’s political views aren’t a condition of membership at the club.
“They can save the reputation of the club by inviting the president to be a member,” he said.