Donald Trump played golf on Saturday and Sunday at his course in Jupiter, Florida. According to custom, once off the fairways the president tweeted angrily on political subjects.
But by Sunday afternoon he had not yet targeted a story in the US press that might have been expected to attract his ire: a report in the New York Post that said fellow players called him “the world’s worst cheat at golf”.
The Post report was taken from a book that will be published on Tuesday. Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump is by Rick Reilly, an award-winning former Sports Illustrated columnist who has played with Trump himself.
Trump has been accused of cheating before, notably by Suzann Pettersen, a multiple winner on the LPGA tour. In January 2018, she told a Norwegian newspaper the president “cheats like hell”. But the Post said Reilly had spoken to a host of famous names.
The PGA Tour pro Brad Faxon described some dubious drops.
The actor Samuel L Jackson was quoted as saying he “clearly saw [Trump] hook a ball into a lake at Trump National” in Bedminster, New Jersey, “and his caddy told him he found it!”
The boxer Oscar de la Hoya and musician Alice Cooper were also cited as celebrity witnesses to presidential fairway chicanery.
Trump’s alleged lack of clubhouse etiquette and previously reportedpenchant for driving golf carts on greens were also mentioned. But perhaps the most startling story concerned a round with the sportscaster Mike Tiricobefore Trump was elected.
Tirico, the Post wrote, “hit the shot of his life, a 230-yard 3-wood towards an elevated green he couldn’t see. But he knew it was close. When he got to the putting green, however, Tirico’s ball was nowhere to be seen. Instead, it was 50ft left of the hole in a bunker. It made no sense – until Trump’s caddy caught up with him after the round.
Tirico was quoted as saying: “Trump’s caddy came up to me and said, ‘You know that shot you hit on the par 5? It was about 10ft from the hole. Trump threw it in the bunker. I watched him do it.’”
Before entering the White House, Trump was a vociferous critic of how much time Barack Obama spent on the course. On the campaign trail, he famously said he would work so hard as president he would not have time to play. Inevitably, he has managed to find the time, regardless of complaints about the cost to the American taxpayer. Equally inevitably, his passion for the game has leached into his own political life.
Trump has played with world leaders, political allies and golfing greats. Pool reporters attending the president regularly ask who he is playing with. Often, they are not told.
Trump’s many courses are part of a property empire from which critics say he is not sufficiently removed. Earlier this month, for example, ethics experts said a tweet in praise of a course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, was “an invitation to graft”.