Even as big companies like Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines publicly denounce Georgia’s new voting laws, a big sports equipment company is reaffirming its ties to Peach State.
Bridgestone Golf has no plans to relocate elsewhere, CEO Dan Murphy said this week. His commentary comes a day before the 2021 Masters Golf Tournament kicks off at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta.
Bridgestone Golf, which manufactures golf balls and golf clubs, has been based in Covington, Georgia for over 30 years.
“It’s our home both personally and in business,” Murphy told Yahoo Finance Wednesday. “We have had great success here.”
Bridgestone Golf has been a sponsor of the PGA and amateur golf tournaments for years. The company is also known for signing endorsement deals with some of golf’s biggest names, including Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau. It is an American subsidiary of the Japanese auto parts and tire maker Bridgestone, which first produced golf balls in 1935.
Sports leagues and Georgia-based businesses have been in political crosshairs in recent weeks after state lawmakers passed sweeping changes to electoral voting rules. The now controversial legislation contains new restrictions on absentee voting while expanding the possibilities for early voting. ID is now required for in-person and postal voting, and it is illegal to give voters food or water while they line up at the polls. These changes have an impact on the 7.4 million Georgian voters.
Democrats characterized the changes as an attempt to suppress and disenfranchise voters of color. Georgia Republicans argued that the changes would help ensure the integrity of the elections.
Murphy of Bridgestone Golf said this week his company was “disappointed with the division” created by the voting changes among Georgians.
“We certainly support the right to vote as a core American value, and we will work very hard in our community to be a voice of unity and understanding,” he said.
Shortly after the voting changes were passed, civil rights activists and dozens of black business leaders pushed big companies like Home Depot and UPS to take a stand on the legislation. They also pressured MLB to relocate their 2021 All-Star Game – which the league ultimately did, selecting Denver, Colorado.
Similar calls for the Masters relocation surfaced earlier this month, but to no avail. The Master started on Thursday and CBS is the tournament broadcast partner. Masters chairman Fred Ridley did not discuss the tournament’s relocation at a press conference on Wednesday and instead said voting was a “fundamental right in our society”.
“And anything that puts anyone at a disadvantage from voting is wrong,” Ridley added.