Even as large corporations like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines publicly decry Georgia’s new voting laws, a major sports equipment company is reaffirming its ties to the Peach State.
Bridgestone Golf has no plans to relocate elsewhere, CEO Dan Murphy said this week. His comment comes a day before the 2021 Masters golf tournament kicked off at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta.
Bridgestone Golf, which makes golf balls and golf clubs, has been based in Covington, Georgia, for more than 30 years.
“It’s our home both personally and business-wise,” Murphy told Yahoo Finance on Wednesday. “We have had great success here.”
Bridgestone Golf has been a sponsor of PGA and amateur golf tournaments for years. The company is also known for signing endorsement deals with some of golf’s biggest names, including Tier Woods and Bryson DeChambeau. It’s a U.S. subsidiary of the Japanese auto parts and tire maker Bridgestone, which first produced golf balls back in 1935.
Sports leagues and Georgia-based companies have been caught in the political crosshairs in recent weeks after state lawmakers passed sweeping changes in election voting rules. The now-controversial legislation contains new restrictions on absentee voting while also expanding early voting opportunities. ID is now required for in-person and mail-in voting and it’s illegal to give voters food or water while they’re waiting in line at the polls. These changes impact all of Georgia’s 7.4 million voters.
Bridgestone Golf’s Murphy this week said his company has been “disappointed with the division” that voting changes has created among Georgians.
“We certainly support the right to vote as a fundamental American value, and we are going to work really hard in our community to be a voice of unity and understanding,” he said.
Soon after the voting changes passed, civil rights activists and dozens of Black business executives pushed major companies like Home Depot and UPS to take a stance on the legislation. They also pressured MLB to relocate its 2021 All-Star Game — which the league ultimately did and selected Denver, Colorado.
Similar calls for relocating the Master’s surfaced earlier this month, but to no avail. The Master’s began Thursday and CBS is the broadcast partner of the tournament. Masters Chairman Fred Ridley didn’t discuss moving the tournament during a press conference Wednesday and instead said voting is a “fundamental right in our society.”
“And anything that disadvantages anyone to vote is wrong,” Ridley added.
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