President Donald Trump famously said, “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” in August, 2016. Since then he has visited his golf clubs once every 4.2 days since his inauguration, according to Trump Golf Count. If you include his other properties, that number spikes to one in three days, The Wall Street Journal reports. In total, NBC News says he teed off on 85 of the first 340 days of his presidency.
1. Bottom line, these trips cost taxpayers money
The U.S. shells out for these excursions, to the tune of about $3 million each time he heads to Mar-a-Lago alone, The Washington Post writes. Since last February, the Secret Service has spent at least $144,975 on golf cart rentals alone, USA Today reports. And even by August, the Secret Service had already racked up quite a bill for the president’s family’s protection. Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles told USA Today that more than 1,000 agents already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that month. Those allowances should have lasted all year.
Next: They strain local governments as well.
2. Local governments feel the weight of Trump’s golf habit
According to estimates provided to CNN by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, that department shoulders around $60,000 in overtime every day Trump spends in Florida. Earlier this year, local officials had to decide whether to raise taxes or cut services to pay for Trump’s golf outings. The local municipality did not have to make that call, fortunately, since the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded $3.3 million to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for presidential protection, effectively just passing the buck.
Next: Trump’s golf habit does benefit one person’s bottom line.
3. The president’s properties still earn him money
CNN reports that the president’s visits do help the bottom line at his properties. Trump transferred his business holdings to a trust run by his sons before taking office, but stopped short of selling off his shares. But every time the president visits one of his clubs, it effectively acts as an advertisement for it. “The president’s incessant exploitation of his office to promote his properties is unprecedented in American history,” said Norm Eisen, chair of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Next: Comments on this former president’s golf habit have come back to bite him.
4. He plays more golf than his biggest rival
His golf games come as just one of the many things Trump lambasted President Barack Obama for. Back in 2014, Trump criticized his predecessor for spending time on the links. He tweeted, “Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the U.S., President Obama spent the day playing golf. Worse than Carter.” However, PolitiFact did the math and discovered that, as of November, the sitting president had played golf 35 times while Obama had only played 24 times by the same point of his presidency. It’s worth noting that Trump aides will often refuse to comment on whether Trump is actually playing. Since the number relies on private citizen sightings and pool reports, it may come in lower than reality.
Next: In typical Trump fashion, he lies about not only the outings, but their purpose.
5. He often golfs with athletes, friends, and business partners
The Trump Golf Count reports that the president frequently golfs with athletes and professional golfers and wealthy business executives at his properties. He recently played with Tiger Woods, and that outing likely had more to do with a golf club the pair are working on. Newsweek writes that Trump’s business organization is working on a foreign contract to build the Trump World Golf Club Dubai, with Woods designing the course. While he said he intended to “get back to work” creating American jobs, the golf course will actually employ thousands overseas, despite promising his company would not work with foreign entities.
Next: When dealing with Trump, do as he says, not as he does.
6. Trump does not golf with the people he wanted Obama to
In 2012, Trump offered Obama some free advice. “Obama should play golf with Republicans & opponents rather than his small group of friends,” he tweeted. “That way maybe the terrible gridlock would end.” Obama subsequently did so, playing a round with Republican Senators Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Bob Corker of Tennessee, as well as Democrat Mark Udall of Colorado, a few months after Trump’s tweet. The sitting president, on the other hand, does not take the long walk with his opponents. He has played golf with exactly zero Democratic Congress members since taking office, Newsweek notes.
Next: Trump’s golf game may actually affect how he does his job.
7. The president’s game has interfered with his work before
When Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, the White House actually communicated with its officials — at first. GQ explains that the president issued an emergency declaration and promised aid, until Trump kicked off a weeklong golf vacation.
The next day, everything related to Puerto Rico essentially stopped. Trump took no meetings, made no calls, and no public statements about the crisis. Bizarrely, the president found time to get into a Twitter battle over police brutality protests in the NFL, attend a rally for Luther Strange, and meet about his travel ban. By all accounts, he did the work he wanted to do. He just ignored the work that needed to be done.
While the White House has defended Trump’s golf game as an integral part of his business strategy, the efficacy of it raises eyebrows. The president might do well to spend more time in his office and less on his swing.
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