President Trump won a 2018 club championship — without actually playing in it!

Donald Trump takes great pride in his golf game. Shinzo Abe and Tiger Woods and countless others can tell you about that. He once tweeted “I don’t cheat at golf” but added that Samuel L. Jackson does and “with his game he has no choice.” The president’s official USGA handicap index is listed as 2.8, though he seldom posts scores. Any visitor to the ornate men’s locker room at his club here, Trump International Golf Club, can see small rectangular brass plaques on his locker, recognizing him as the 1999, 2001 and 2009 club champion, and the 2012 and 2013 senior champion.

And now there’s a new plaque on his locker, screwed into its stained wood with two small Phillips head screws, to commemorate his latest title. It reads:

President Trump’s locker at Trump International in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Yes, Trump was president of the United States for all of 2018.

Yes, Trump turned 72 last year, which would be an impressive age to win even a senior club championship.

But there the plaque is, identifying Trump as the reigning club champion at his spectacular Trump International course.

His most recent win brings Trump’s club-championship haul — all won at clubs bearing his name — to an even 20. That includes senior and super-senior titles, too.

But to be precise about it, the plaque on his locker is two letters short of accurate. Trump is not actually the men’s champion at the club. He’s the co-champion. While that distinction is not found on his locker, it is made elsewhere at the club.

As for Trump’s path to No. 20, it was not conventional.

Originally, a man named Ted Virtue, the 58-year-old CEO of a New York investment firm called MidOcean Partners, had the 2018 club championship title all to himself.

Virtue, a member of Winged Foot and Westchester Country Club in New York and Lost Tree and Trump International in South Florida, won a series of matches en route to his title. He played football and basketball at Middlebury College in Vermont in the early 1980s and his golf is more athletic than poetic. His index is listed as 3.3 and his 20 most recent scores, all from 2018 and this year, range from 73 to 83. Trump has posted only two scores since 2016.

After Virtue won the championship, Trump ran into him at the club, according to multiple sources who recounted the story. Having some fun with him, Trump said something like, “The only reason you won is because I couldn’t play.” The president cited the demands of his job, although he was able to make 20 visits to the club in 2018, according to Trump then proposed a nine-hole challenge match to Virtue, winner-takes-the-title.

You could say there wasn’t much in it for Virtue, and you could argue that this is not how these matters are typically, if ever, settled. But consider these factors:

1. Trump owns the course;

2. Trump is the president of the United States;

3. Trump is not your typical golfer.

Virtue said yes.

They played match play (each hole as its own contest) and straight up (no shots were given). As in nearly all amateur golf rounds, no rules official was on hand. Golf’s tradition calls for players to police themselves and, if necessary, one another.

Trump won.

In victory a magnanimous Trump said to Virtue something like, “This isn’t fair — we’ll be co-champions.”

The crowning of co-champions in golf is rare, but it does happen, at every level. In the 1949 Motor City Open, Lloyd Mangrum and Cary Middlecoff each shot 273 for 72 holes and then matched scores for 11 straight sudden-death playoff holes, playing through sunset. They were declared co-champions.

And that is how Trump and Virtue are reportedly listed on a large club-championship plaque on a clubhouse wall, as co-champions. That would mean Trump’s name is now on that plaque four times. Or five, if you include the appearance of his surname on the gold crest at its top.

Several club employees said they were not allowed to discuss club matters. Eric Trump, who runs the Trump golf-course empire for his father, did not respond to messages. Neither did Virtue.

Regardless of the outcome of that short match, 2018 was a good year for Virtue. A movie he helped get made, Green Book, was released, and on Feb. 24 it won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Virtue, tall and tanned, was standing on the stage when the movie’s director, Peter Farrelly, hoisted the bronze statuette at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

Virtue’s co-champion, who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was otherwise occupied that night, as the host of the Governors Ball at the White House.

There was no immediate word on the president’s plans, if any, to defend the championship he co-owns.


Trump teeing off with Tiger Woods, but vows the round of golf will go ‘quickly’

President Trump made a rare acknowledgement Friday of his plans to play golf, noting in a tweet that he was teeing off with Tiger Woods but stressing he will play “quickly” before returning to the burdens of the office.

Trump, who is spending Thanksgiving weekend at Mar-a-Lago, said he will play with the golf legend as well as Dustin Johnson, currently ranked the world’s No. 1 golfer.

The threesome is scheduled to tee off at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., about 20 miles north of the presidential retreat at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump was careful in his tweet to underscore he planned a quick round. He also said he was going to be talking to the president of Turkey and also focusing on the economy.

He also used his pre-golf morning to blast NFL players who “disrespect” the country, the flag and national anthem with their pre-game protests “without penalty.”
Since taking office, Trump has rarely acknowledged playing golf. In recent years, particularly during the 2016 campaign, he slammed President Obama repeatedly for playing the game, chiding his “work ethic” and even criticizing the president for going to Hawaii during the holiday and taking Secret Service personnel away from their families.

For his part, Trump pledged to largely forego golf while in office, saying he was “not going to have time to play golf.”

After a year in the Oval Office, however, published reports indicate he has played at least 34 times since the inauguration and has visited his golf courses more than 70 times.

In addition, the traveling press is rarely allowed to observe his rounds and aides traditionally decline to say when the golf is played.

This week, after the presidential entourage arrived in Florida, the White House had to correct itself after a spokesperson initially said she was expecting a “low-key day” while the president spent time at the Florida resort. Minutes later, the correction was that the president “will NOT have a low-key day.”

Abut 90 minutes later, however, the press poll noted the motorcade arriving at a Trump golf club near West Palm Beach and left some five hours later, the New York Post reported.

Aides were mum on how he spent the time period, which is roughly the length of a round of golf, unless you play quickly.

[USA Today]


Donald Trump has visited a Trump property, which he still owns and receives profits from, 34 out of his 45 weeks in office so far.

Trump Spotted at Florida Golf Club

President Trump was spotted playing golf on Sunday for the second day in a row at his West Palm Beach, Fla. golf club, according to reports.

The president also traveled to Trump International Golf Club for a round of golf on Saturday.

The president left for Trump International Golf Club around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday wearing a white polo shirt and red cap, according to White House pool reports.

Trump on Thursday left the White House for Mar-a-Lago where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi left the resort on Friday afternoon, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Trump left the golf club at 2:30 p.m., according to pool reports. Trump is scheduled to return to Washington later on Sunday,

(h/t The Hill)

Donald Trump Takes 15th Golf Trip in 11 Weeks Since Becoming President

Donald Trump is taking his 15th golf trip in the 11 weeks since becoming President, as he spends another weekend at one of his own luxury resorts.

The President is coming off the back of a high-stakes summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has closed a sixth of his country’s golf courses since 2011 and will not play a sport which maintains a reputation for decadence and corruption in China.

But President Xi left the President’s luxury Mar-a-Lago resort on Friday night, and by Saturday morning Mr Trump was on the links at his International Golf Club in Florida, the White House press pool was informed.

During a campaign rally last year, Mr Trump referred to a string of his golf clubs when claiming: “You know what – and I love golf – but if I were in the White House, I don’t think I’d ever see Turnberry again, I don’t think I’d ever see Doral again, I own Doral in Miami, I don’t think I’d ever see many of the places that I have.

“I don’t ever think that I’d see anything, I just wanna stay in the White House and work my ass off, make great deals, right? Who’s gonna leave? I mean, who’s gonna leave?”

He is now back on the green for the 15th time since 20 January. The trip also marks the 10th weekend in a row President Trump has spent at one of his own properties.

Thanks in particular to increased security bills at the waterfront Mar-a-Lago resort, he is on course to spend more on travel in a single year than the $97 million Barack Obama spent during his eight years in office.

The billionaire has already racked up $23 million in travel bills, at roughly 10 times the rate of his predecessor.

While still a private citizen, the billionaire tycoon repeatedly criticised former President Barack Obama for playing golf rather than attending to his presidential duties.

“Can you believe that,with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf.,” he wrote in one 2014 tirade.

In a similar attack back in 2013, Fox News pundit and staunch Trump backer Sean Hannity wrote: “Glad our arrogant Pres is enjoying his taxpayer funded golf outing after announcing the US should take military action against Syria.”

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s cruise missile barrage against a Syrian air base, the tweet is being re-circulated on social media.

(h/t The Independent)

Trump Has 2 Events Super Bowl Weekend — And Both Benefit His Businesses

President Donald Trump will attend two events this weekend: a charity ball at Mar-A-Lago, his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, and a Super Bowl gathering at his Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach.

Trump will spend Saturday and Sunday nights attending private events where his presence, and the attendant press coverage of the president, stand to directly benefit the properties’ bottom lines. Given that Trump earns income from both of these properties, his decision ― as president ― to attend events there creates the appearance that he may be using the presidency to increase the visibility, prestige and financial value of his clubs.

This is the first weekend the president has spent in Florida since his inauguration last month. According to the White House, Trump also plans at least three weekend phone calls with foreign leaders from New Zealand, Italy and Ukraine.

Trump is scheduled to spend Saturday night at the International Red Cross Ball, held this year at Mar-A-Lago. The annual event has been hosted at Mar-A-Lago in the past. According to news reports and a review of Red Cross tax forms, the organization pays fees for such facilities, and catering that can run to more than $300,000.

Below, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended the Red Cross Gala at Mar-A-Lago in 2008.

Trump will spend Sunday evening at his Trump International Golf Club, a members-only facility that hosts top-level pro golf tournaments. He’ll attend what the White House billed as, “The President watches the Super Bowl.”

It was unclear exactly what the Super Bowl event would entail, and who would be invited to attend. The White House did not respond to questions late Friday from The Huffington Post.

According to Trump’s May 2016 personal financial disclosures, the Trump International Golf Club had income of more than $17.5 million the previous year, while Mar-A-Lago raked in $30 million in membership fees and event costs. Both clubs offer memberships, as well event spaces and world-class golf courses, all of which are available to the public, albeit for top dollar.

Trump traveled to Mar-A-Lago on Friday afternoon aboard Air Force One ― a flight that was paid for with taxpayer funds. White House spokesman Sean Spicer repeatedly referred to the 126-room mansion this week as the “Winter White House,” suggesting Mar-A-Lago would be a Trump administration site of official business, and not simply a weekend retreat. Mar-A-Lago recently announced that it had doubled its membership fees, from $100,000 to $200,000.

According to the White House press guidance, Trump’s calls with foreign leaders this weekend will be closed to reporters. But both events at his clubs will be open to the press pool that travels with the president, and will be covered by the same photographers and reporters who cover the White House.

Both events at Trump’s clubs will take place against the backdrop of the president’s unprecedented refusal to divest himself financially from his real estate and hotel empire. Instead, Trump has promised that his sons will manage the company while he is president, and will not discuss the business with him. This is far less than any previous president has done to avoid business conflicts, and well short of what Trump’s own Cabinet members are required to do.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Trump Kicks Critic Off His Golf Course

Trump golfing in the rain

President-elect Donald Trump on Friday ejected from his West Palm Beach golf course one of his most critical biographers, Harry Hurt III, who had been preparing to play in a foursome with billionaire mega-donor David Koch.

Hurt is the author of “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” a 1993 book that revealed among other things that Trump was accused of “rape” by his ex-wife Ivana Trump in a sworn deposition during their divorce proceedings.

Donald Trump has denied the allegation, as well as other parts of the book, and Ivana Trump herself later said that she did not intend for her use of the word “rape” to be interpreted in “a literal or criminal sense.”

On Friday, Hurt approached Trump on the practice tee at Trump International Golf Club, and congratulated him on his victory in last month’s presidential election, according to an account that Hurt posted on Facebook on Saturday.

Trump responded by criticizing Hurt’s biography as untrue, to which Hurt replied “It’s all true,” according to both Hurt’s Facebook post and a transition official who was briefed on the incident, but did not want to be identified discussing a testy exchange involving the president-elect.

Trump told Hurt “you’re out of here,” according to the transition official, while Hurt wrote on Facebook that Trump told him it was “inappropriate” for him to play at the club.

David Koch could be reached for comment, and the Trump transition team declined to comment.

Hurt told POLITICO in an interview that he approached Trump “out of courtesy and respect for the office of the President of the United States … I support the office of the President of the United States, and I sincerely hope that Donald Trump will look after the interests of the United States with the same passion as he has looked after his business interests heretofore.”

The various accounts given to POLITICO diverge after the initial interaction between Hurt and Trump.

Hurt’s Facebook post says that Trump “had his security detail escort Hurt, Koch, and their playing partners to the parking lot,” and that Koch “was appalled,” and criticized Trump as “petty” and “vulgar.”

Another member of the Hurt-Koch foursome, fellow GOP donor John M. Damgard, told POLITICO that neither he nor Koch were privy to Hurt’s exchange with Trump, and that Hurt didn’t recount it to them in any detail.

“Harry just said he had been asked to leave,” said Damgard, a former president of the Futures Industry Association who has a house in Palm Beach. “I thought he was kidding. And then I learned that there had been some previous bad blood between them from back in the ‘90s apparently,” Damgard said, adding, “Unbeknownst to us, he had written a book or an article that was critical of Trump.”

So, Damgard continued, “rather than exacerbate something that wasn’t going to go very well, we just decided to get into the car and leave.”

A Koch associate told POLITICO that when Hurt returned from his exchange with Trump, he offered to take an Uber home and allow the rest of the foursome to continue playing without him.

“And David said, ‘No, we came as a foursome and we’ll leave as a foursome,’” said the Koch associate, who was briefed on the incident.

Koch is a member of the golf club, said his associate, adding that Koch and Hurt are “golfing buddies” who have “known each other for years.” The associate said that the final member of the foursome was someone invited by Hurt who boasts of having a scratch handicap and may have been giving golf lessons to the person.

The Koch associate said Hurt had only approached the president-elect “as a courtesy.”

And Damgard said, “Harry was with a young lady who was a friend and he thought it would be fun to introduce her to the president-elect.”

But the transition official described Hurt as “trying to instigate,” and said that, instead of leaving after the exchange with Trump, the biographer returned to his foursome as they waited to tee off.

“The course security actually had to go and tap him on the shoulder and tell him to leave,” said the transition official. Koch protested that Hurt was part of his foursome, said the transition official, who said that security informed Koch that he could either leave with Hurt or play without him.

Damgard denies this, saying, “We had no interaction with security.”

And Hurt told POLITICO “There was nobody tapping me on the shoulder, nobody forcing me out.” He said the reason he did not leave immediately after Trump asked him to do so was that “We had to go collect our stuff.”

Hurt said he posted his account on Facebook “to have a true factual narrative of what happened when I was there between Donald Trump and me.” He said “I knew that this story was going to get out and that there are a lot of people, such as the Trump transition people … who were going to take different facts and twist them and say things that were not true.”

But the transition official suggested Hurt was looking for publicity. “The courtesy would have been to just tee off with David Koch and keep to yourself,” said the official. “He could have easily teed off with Koch, and nobody would have said anything.”

Instead, Koch’s foursome left and played at Emerald Dunes, which Hurt described in his Facebook post as “a much, much better golf course than Trump International.”

Damgard, on the other hand, said that Trump’s West Palm Beach course is “one of [Koch’s] very favorite golf courses,” adding, “if he had thought that there would have been an incident, he would have done whatever he could to avoid it.”

The Koch associate said that Koch “will continue to golf” at the Trump course, and didn’t anticipate that the incident would pose any problems between Koch and the president-elect.

But Trump and Koch have recent history.

Koch, a billionaire industrialist, with his brother Charles Koch spearheads arguably the most influential network of donors and advocacy groups on the right. But the brothers sat out the presidential election out of distaste for both Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Charles Koch once likened the choice between Trump and Clinton to choosing between cancer or a heart attack. Trump in turn boasted that the Kochs could not influence him because he didn’t “want their money or anything else from them.”

When Trump and David Koch encountered one another last week at the president-elect’s luxury Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Trump referenced the brothers’ sitting out the campaign, according to a transition team source.