Donald Trump's Questionable Reputation On The Golf Course Doesn't Surprise Us

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When Donald Trump isn't appearing at campaign rallies or arranging photo ops, he can usually be found on the golf course. And when he isn't on the green, he's touting his accomplishments about it. For instance, during the week of March 12, 2024, he won both the Club Championship and the Senior Club Championship, to add to the Super Senior Championship he won earlier in the year — not bad for a 77-year-old player. His supporters agree: "Trump is a machine. With all of the campaigning and fighting against frivolous lawsuits, he still has the mental and physical strength to go out there and shoot great golf," responded a fan to Trump's Instagram account. (The lawsuits in question include the New York business fraud verdict, in which Trump was hit with a massive fine and business ban.)

Detractors, however, point out one little detail: Those championships were won at the Trump International Golf Club. It's just one of the many little ways in which the former POTUS "fudges and foozles and fluffs" about his game, according to the book "Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump." Author Rick Reilly writes, "To say 'Donald Trump cheats' is like saying 'Michael Phelps swims.' [...] He cheats whether you like it or not."

Trump is actually a skilled player; the great Jack Nicklaus himself once said in an interview, "Of the [presidents] I've played with, Trump is probably the best." But in a sport where integrity is prized above all, Trump's rep for tipping games in his favor is troubling — though not surprising.

Donald Trump likes to win

Donald Trump is a man who enjoys winning, and he's apparently willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. In an interview with MSNBC, sportswriter Rick Reilly dished about the ploys the former president uses on and off the green. "[W]hen I played with him, he goes, 'You know what I do to win these championships, don't ya? [...] Anytime I buy a new course, I play the first round all by myself and then I declare myself the club champion.'" 

Maneuvers like that are (ahem) par for the course for Trump, who has transformed himself into a golf legend in his own mind. After his double win at his West Palm Beach property, the Palm Beach Post reported Trump never actually played the first round of the Senior Club Championship. Instead, he entered a good score he'd logged at the course earlier in the week. Other sources affirm Trump isn't above kicking his ball into a better position, or switching other players' balls with his own. Reilly claims the former POTUS has even won games he never actually played: "What he does [is] he just calls in and says, 'I usually beat that guy, give me the trophy.'"

This explains a lot about Trump's reaction to the result of the 2020 election. A man who can demand seven mulligans (do-overs) in a game, as Reilly once witnessed, is certainly capable of demanding multiple vote recounts and protesting the certification of his opponent.

Joe Biden has thoughts on Trump's golfing

As the 2024 presidential race heats up, so does the snarking between the two front-runners for the ballot.  President Biden has been making sly jokes at Donald Trump about his money woes, but more recently, he's taken aim at his opponent's golf game. When Trump boasted about the two championship trophies he won at the course he happens to own, the president reposted the comment on X (formerly Twitter) with a simple response: "Congratulations, Donald. Quite the accomplishment." Fans cheered: "Dark Brandon strikes again!!!" tweeted one. "President Biden dragging Trump is what I live for," agreed another. 

The president also didn't hesitate to point out that he spent nearly three weeks campaigning in eight swing states while Trump was choosing irons and teeing off in Palm Beach.  "I'll tell you this: There's a difference between the two candidates in this election," the caption mentioned. Biden followed that up with a clip from his March 28 fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall. Moderator Stephen Colbert asked him, "Can voters trust a presidential candidate who has not won a single Trump International Golf Club trophy? At long last, sir, have you no chip shot?" Biden replied, "Well look, I'd be happy to play. I told him once before, when he came into the Oval [Office] before he got sworn in, I said, 'I'll give you three strokes if you carry your own bag.'"

So far, Trump hasn't taken the president up on the offer.