In addition to playing politics, American Presidents play golf, hole after hole after hole.
It is one of the few bipartisan activities left standing. Dwight D. Eisenhower hit them straight down the middle often, as did his successor, John F. Kennedy, who is purported to have been the best golfer to inhabit the White House. The nation’s biggest golfer, however, was William Howard Taft, who weighed in at more than 300 pounds.
Gerald Ford hacked around the links and was known for plunking spectators with his errant shots. Bob Hope joked that when he played in a foursome with Ford, the other two participants had to be a paramedic and a faith healer.
George W. Bush played speed golf, racing around the course at a breakneck pace — much as he rushed America into war with Iraq.
While it may be relaxing for the most powerful people on earth, POTUS putting, chipping and driving are not without political ramifications. The Democrats made much of Eisenhower’s compulsive play—an estimated 800 rounds in his two terms. Playing 100 rounds a year, or more than once every four days, is impressive, considering that Ike’s tenure included seven weeks (among other times) he spent in the hospital after his 1955 heart attack.
Nota bene: the Democrats recaptured the White House and its putting green in 1960 from the Republicans.
To be fair, Ike can’t hold a nine iron to Woodrow Wilson, the all time links leader, who played a reported 1,200 rounds during his two terms — despite being incapacitated with health issues for the last six months of his tenure.
The Republicans took back the presidency in 1920 after eight years of Wilsonian democracy.
When he was a mere candidate, our current duffer-in-chief repeatedly scolded President Barack Obama for playing too much golf. “I mean he’s played more golf than most people on the PGA Tour, this guy,” Trump said untruthfully.
Trump went so far as to proclaim that if elected president he would be too busy doing the people’s business to play the game. “I’m not going to have time to go golfing, believe me. Believe me. Believe me, folks,” he lied.
Now this last was no garden-variety fib. In his first term alone, Trump is on pace to blow by Obama’s two-term total. Obama played an estimated 333 rounds over eight years, while to date President Trump has visited golf courses, mostly his own properties, 262 times (often for multiple days or even weeks).
Reporters often are kept in a holding location away from the course, and frequently are not told what the president is doing and with whom he is doing it. One clue is when the stopover is between four and five hours.
To be fair, some of these rounds have been business outings with world and domestic leaders, but many times Trump is playing with the likes of fellow philanderer Tiger Woods — which hardly qualifies as doing the people’s business.
Golf News Net reports that Trump played golf 91 times in his first year, 76 times in 2018 and 91 times last year—for a total of 258 rounds that can be verified—and also that he has spent more than one day in five at one of his golf properties. At this rate, Trump would play 688 rounds in eight years, more than twice Obama’s total.
Trump is reported to be a very good golfer, but has also been accused of cheating by multiple people. Like Bill Clinton, he is known to take a mulligan from time to time. But former Sports Illustrated and ESPN columnist Rick Reilly, who has played with Trump, told The Washington Post: “when it comes to cheating, he’s an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.”
So it will come as no surprise that there is a YouTube video of Trump driving his golf cart right smack into the middle of a putting green, a major breach of golf etiquette. It was like he owned the place, which, of course, he did: Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Golf has spawned many stirring bromides over the years, like “Drive for show, putt for dough.” Here’s one from the late golf legend Percy Boomer: “If you wish to hide your character, don’t play golf.”