When there’s blood in the water, the publishing industry is always ready to serve the public’s hunger, and right about now there’s plenty of thirst for books either praising or criticizing President Trump. While most recent books have assessed his presidential style and White House backroom dealings, an upcoming book promises to give a different look at the president: the view from the golf course.
“Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump,” by longtime Sports Illustrated/ESPN/The Athletic reporter Rick Reilly, will hit shelves next May with what the publisher calls an account of Trump’s “ethics deficit” while on the golf course. The book will reportedly rely not only on Reilly’s firsthand experience playing golf with the president, but also interviews with playing partners, caddies, and others with knowledge of the president’s golf game.
Trump’s legendary golf game
Plenty of people have lavished praise on Trump’s golf game; Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted last year that Trump “shot a 73 in wet and windy conditions,” and many professional golfers who have played with him have come away with surprise at the president’s skill with the sticks.
However, many without a need to either flatter or seek approval from Trump have painted quite a different picture. At least half a dozen people, from Samuel L. Jackson to Alice Cooper to Oscar de la Hoya, have accused Trump of cheating on the course in one way or another. LPGA golfer Suzann Pettersen had some direct words earlier this year:
“He cheats like hell,” Pettersen said, “so I don’t quite know how he is in business. They say that if you cheat at golf, you cheat at business. I’m pretty sure he pays his caddie well, since no matter how far into the woods he hits the ball, it’s in the middle of the fairway when we get there.” (Pettersen later walked back all of her substantial and at-length quotes on Trump, calling them “fake news.” So take all that as you will.)
Golf, of course, is a self-policed game; if someone says their ball miraculously ricocheted out onto the fairway from a tee shot heading into the deep woods, or if a ball somehow ends up in the bottom of the cup when it sure looked like it was going to stop 10 feet short, well, you have to trust the honor of the person telling you their score.
Presidential golfing tradition
And since no Trump story would be complete without a healthy bellowing of “what about … ?” from his base, we add this: presidents throughout history have fudged their golf games. Dwight Eisenhower wanted Augusta National to cut down a tree on the 17th hole that he kept hitting. (Augusta refused.) Most famously, President Clinton played fast and loose with mulligans and gimme putts throughout his career, and once laughed that he didn’t get granted quite as many gimmes once he was out of office.
Regardless, Trump is, by the numbers, the best golfer ever to occupy the Oval Office. And in Reilly’s book, we ought to get a glimpse of how he really plays.
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