“He loves the game of golf more than he loves money”.
This is what Jack Nicklaus (yes, the golf legend) had to say about Donald Trump.
Forbes published an article in July of 2019 titled “Trump’s Golf Trips Could Cost Taxpayers Over $340 Million”.
But the relationship between Donald Trump and golf goes way beyond scandalous headlines and angry taxpayers.
1. When did Trump start playing golf?
Most people don’t realize that Trump has been in love with golf for decades.
In fact, Donald Trump started playing golf during his 20s at the University of Pennsylvania.
Wikipedia says that his handicap could be as low as 2.8. That would be realistic for someone who has been playing for more than 5 decades. But as we will see later, no one really knows how good Trump is…
2. Trump golf courses
His golf courses
Trump opened his first golf course back in 1999 in Florida. This purchase made the headlines because the $45 million purchase was funded using money from a lawsuit against Palm Beach County in Florida.
Trump began his expansion after the financial crisis in 2008.
He owned 16 golf courses in total in 2016.
Trump owns multiple golf courses which have hosted several important championships, such as:
- The LPGA Tour finale
- The US Junior Girls Championships
- The US Junior Amateur Championships
- The Senior PGA Championships
- The PGA Championships in 2022
Before begin elected president, Trump talked about illegal immigration in a way that drew criticism from multiple organizations.
In spite of usually not being involved in politics, multiple golf organizations declared such as the USGA, the PGA of American, the LPGA and the PGA Tour declared that Trump’s statements were inconsistent with their vision of golf.
As a consequence, the PGA Grand Slam of Golf was relocated in 2015.
Conflict of interests
Previous presidents had divested from their business holdings after being elected presidents. However, Trump chose to keep his businesses, including his golf courses.
Shortly after being elected, a lawsuit alleging that Trump violated the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the US Constitution was filled. The goal of this lawsuit was to block Trump from receiving profits from foreign companies using his businesses.
In 2017, Donal Trump and the Prime Minister of Japan played at the Trump International golf club in Florida. Concerns were raised over foreign payments Trump may have received from the visit.
Following this event, Trump said he would donate any money received to the Treasury Department.
In 2016, USA Today revealed that lobbyists used their memberships (sometimes worth more than $100,000) at Trump’s golf courses in order to enter in contact with the president.
3. How much time has Trump spent golfing?
No time to play golf
During his presidential campaign, Trump declared:
“I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to play golf”.
Trump used to criticize Obama for playing too much golf while in office. However, Trump went golfing 8 times during his first weeks.
According to the Washington Post, Trump goes for a golf round about every 5 days, which means he plays substantially more than Obama (about every 12 days).
Between 2017 and 2018, Trump visited his own course over 92 times. Whether or not Trump actually plays golf when visiting his properties is a piece of information that the White House is not willing to reveal.
In fact, the White House affirmed on multiple occasions that Trump was simply visiting his businesses, not playing golf. These statements were in fact untrue, as shown by multiple pictures of Trump playing golf published on social networks.
Why does he golf so much?
Journals think that Trump’s frequent golf trips to his own properties are a pure marketing play to promote his golf courses.
A White House Press secretary said that the time Trump spends golfing is spent trying to develop connections with members of Congress. CNN responded to this claim by pointing out that Trump has only played 7 times with members of Congress at his own golf courses.
4. Does Trump cheat at golf?
In fact, he has admitted to cheating in the past.
When people who play with him call him out, he answers:
“Oh, the guys I play with, you’ve got to do this just to keep it fair.”
As a matter of fact, Rick Reilly wrote a book titled Commander in Cheat about Trump and golf.
In this book, Reilly makes the parallel between Trump’s behavior on the golf course and his personality.
In 2019, Trump told people that he had won 20 championships in total. He likes to brag about his accomplishments on Twitter:
Just won The Club Championship at Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach-lots of very good golfers-never easy to win a C.C.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 17, 2013
But Rick Reilly says:
“That’s 100 percent a lie”
Trump actually told Reilly that whenever he opens a new club, he plays the first tournament alone and then becomes the winner. I guess in this sense, Trump actually didn’t lie…
Trump goes around proclaiming that he is one of the best players among the rich. However, Rick Reilly participated in the Tahoe Celebrity tournament with Trump on multiple occasions and says that Trump could never get to the top half.
Rick Reilly asked about Trump’s behavior to a psychiatrist, who said that Trump’s behavior shows some degree of narcissism. This type of person don’t accept the fact that they are not the winner, so they make up a new reality.
“This guy cheats like a mafia accountant”
According to Reilly, caddies call Trump Pelé (a Brazilian soccer player), because he takes his balls out of bunkers and throws other people’s balls in the water.
5. Trump golf count
While doing my research for this article, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the article online featuring Trump and golf are related to the cost of his little trips.
In fact, there is a website called Trump Golf Count which allows visitors to keep count of Trump’s visits to golf clubs (since inauguration), alongside with the total cost to taxpayers.
As of September 2019, Trump has golfed 213 times. This is the equivalent of about 109 million dollars for taxpayers:
But why are these outings so expensive?
Well, when Trump goes golfing, it’s not exactly the same experience as when you and I go hit a few balls on the course.
Trump often goes to his own properties which are situated in different states, requiring plane arrangements as well as security personnel.
Trump vs Obama
6. How good is Trump?
In early 2019, Trump posted his first golf score of the year on GHIN (Golf Handicap and Information Network). It appears as if Trump made some radical changes to his swing, since his score was 68.
But here’s the thing.
In October of the previous year, he played 96.
I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t see such radical variations in my scores.
Even worse, Trump’s GHIN profile also included other scores above 100. It turns out that Trump’s GHIN account was actually hacked.
So how good is he really?
I would really love to get an answer on that one. But as you know by now, Trump is well known for cheating and lying.
It’s hard to know exactly how good Trump really is.