Donald Trump is ‘world’s worst cheat at golf’, new book claims

Rick Reilly has talked to a host of pro golfers and celebrities that have played with the president

Donald Trump plays a round at Trump Turnberry in Scotland. Photograph: by Leon Neal/Getty

Donald Trump plays a round at Trump Turnberry in Scotland. Photograph: by Leon Neal/Getty

 

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 is published today. 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.

Donald Trump waves at protestors during his first official visit to the UK in Ju;y 2018. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty
Donald Trump waves at protestors during his first official visit to the UK in Ju;y 2018. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty

Trump’s alleged lack of clubhouse etiquette and previously reported penchant for driving golf carts on greens were also mentioned. But perhaps the most startling story concerned a round with the sportscaster Mike Tirico before 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 50 feet 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 five? It was about 10 feet 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 Barack Obama for the time he spent on the course. On the campaign trail, Trump 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 was “an invitation to graft”.

Trump combined an official visit to the UK with teeing off at another Scottish course, Turnberry. He attracted high-profile protests.

In May 2017, as the Russia investigation heated up, an author claimed Trump’s son Eric had told him the family courses attracted “all the funding we need out of Russia”.

Two years later, in the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller finding no evidence of collusion between Trump and Moscow, that story might not embarrass the president. A legally dubious attempt to slash the tax bill on a New York course, however, was recently cited in Congress during damaging testimony by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

In being accused of cheating, Trump is in good company. Bill Clinton was famed for taking “mulligans”, re-goes at shots he didn’t like. All the same, the new book will surely sting the notoriously thin-skinned president.

The Post rehashed famous stories about Trump’s infamously cavalier relationship with the truth. For instance, at Trump Washington in Sterling, Virginia, a fairway plaque commemorates a civil war battle that never happened.

But the report also went right to the heart of the 72-year-old president’s game: his official handicap, an impressive 2.8 which is listed on the Golf Handicap and Information Network website.

The Post reported that Jack Nicklaus, winner of 18 Majors and generally considered the greatest golfer of all time, is listed on the same site as having a handicap of 3.4 at the age of 79.

In Reilly’s words: “If Trump is a 2.8, Queen Elizabeth is a pole vaulter.” – Guardian

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