5 Facts About Donald Trump and Golf: He "Can Really Strike the Ball"

Former president's unknown habits according to sportswriter.

It's no secret that Donald Trump is fond of golf. This is the former president who spent 307 days golfing during his term, often on one of his self-owned courses. Perhaps lesser known are Trump's habits and demeanor during the game. But last week, the Palm Beach Post pulled back the curtain on how Trump plays, citing a well-known sportswriter. 

As with his presidential term, there's apparently no shortage of drama on the golf course when Trump's involved. There are allegations of feuds, fuzzy math, and questionable wins, just to start. Read on to find out five facts about Donald Trump and golf. 

"Trump Can Really Strike the Ball," According to a Pro


Hall of Famer Ernie Els witnessed a hole-in-one by Trump last year at West Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Post reported. The news outlet asked him how Trump's game really is. "He can really strike the ball," Els said. "He makes good contact. He's got a good swing. Like any amateur, you got to do the short game practice. I keep talking to him about his chipping. He's a pretty good putter. Back in his day, he had to be a 4- or 5-handicap. Today, he's probably a 10, 12."

The Former President Owns 18 Courses


Trump owns eighteen courses throughout the world, including twelve in the United States. Three are in Florida: Jupiter, West Palm Beach, and Doral. Those courses have hosted many PGA and LPGA events. But the former president's once-warm relationship with the PGA Tour became tense in 2016 when the tour moved the World Golf Championship out of Trump National Doral and to Mexico City after Cadillac pulled out as a sponsor.

Trump has begun to support LIV Golf, the startup league headed by Greg Norman and financed by the Saudis. This year, three LIV events will be held at Trump golf courses.

He's Claimed to Have Won More Than 20 Championships

Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Trump claims he was won more than twenty club championships. Sportswriter Rick Reilly, in the 2019 book Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, claims that the best player at that level he knew had won eight. Reilly said Trump told him whenever he opens a new golf course, he plays the first club championship by himself, declares himself the champion, and puts his name on the wall. "But it's usually just him and Melania in the cart and nobody else," Reilly claims. "He just makes it up."

Trump Has the Nickname "Pele" For Kicking the Ball


"Trump doesn't just cheat at golf," writes Reilly. "He throws it, boots it, and moves it. He lies about his lies. He fudges and foozles and fluffs. At Winged Foot, where Trump is a member, the caddies got so used to seeing him kick his ball back onto the fairway they came up with a nickname for him: 'Pele.'" 

On Jan. 22, members of a Trump golf course arrived for an invitational and found Trump's name at the top of the leaderboard—when he hadn't played the first round, Palm Beach Post reported.

He Once Allegedly Switched a Ball


Reilly reported that CEO Ted Virtue won a club championship at West Palm Beach when Trump was president. Trump couldn't attend—he was in Singapore—so when he next saw Virtue on a course he announced they would play right then and there to determine who really won the championship. "Apparently, they get to a hole with a big pond in front of the green," Reilly said. "Both Ted and his son hit the ball on the green, but Trump hits his in the water. By the time they get to the hole, though, Trump is lining up the son's ball. Only now it's his ball and the caddie has switched it. "The son is like, 'That's my ball!' But Trump's caddie goes, 'No, this is the president's ball; your ball went in the water.' … Trump makes that putt, and wins 1-up."

Filed Under
 •  •  •