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10 astonishing claims from the book detailing President Trump's cheating at golf

April 04, 2019
The Trump International Golf Links Course Opens

Ian MacNicol

There have been numerous outrageous tales regarding President Donald Trump and golf, like how Trump awards himself club championships or has built monuments on courses to battles that never took place. However, Commander in Cheat, a new book by Rick Reilly detailing Trump's relationship with the sport, makes some stunning—and damning—assertions about the president.

After reviewing the book, here are 10 of the most astonishing golf-related claims about Donald Trump.

Caddies have an interesting nickname for Trump

That nickname would be "Pele." The moniker came from loopers at Winged Foot who got so used to Trump kicking his ball from the rough into the fairway.

He's generous with gimmes

Trump might be a conservative. But when it comes to conceding putts, he's as liberal as it gets.

A putt is generally considered good if it's "inside the leather"—i.e., within a foot of the cup. What constitutes a gimme is slightly different in Trump's world, routinely giving others—and himself—10-footers. Reilly even asserts he once saw Trump give himself a chip-in.

He messes with his opponents' games

Reilly says that Trump will do whatever it takes to win a match. One time, that included interfering with sportscaster Mike Tirico's ball. Tirico hit what he thought was the shot of his life into a par 5, only to find his ball in a sand trap. After the round, Tirico discovered how it got there.

“Trump’s caddy came up to me and said, ‘You know that shot you hit on the par 5?’ ” Tirico said. “ ‘It was about 10 feet from the hole. Trump threw it in the bunker. I watched him do it.’ ”

Pros say Trump's handicap is baloney

Trump boasts a 2.8 handicap, a figure that signals the type of stick that could make a run at a club championship.

It's also a figure that's been called B.S.

Former tour player and current FOX broadcaster Brad Faxon, a supporter and frequent partner of Trump's, called the president "a legit 10." LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam echoed those sentiments, calling Trump "a 9 or 10," as did Ernie Els ("an 8 or a 9").

Also odd: Despite making 165 visits to golf courses during his presidency, he's posted just one round on the USGA's GHIN service. There was a second round—Trump allegedly shot a 68 in October 2017—but he soon deleted it.

Trump doesn't always pay his bills

Reilly writes that Andrew Tesoro, who designed the clubhouse at Trump Westchester, was owed more than $141,000. The book details that when he went to Trump's lawyers, Tesoro claims they said he could sue, but he would be tied up in court for a decade and might not get paid. Tesoro, then a fledging architect, couldn't afford to do that. In that end, he received just $25,000.

Trump, according to Reilly, also tried to get out of repaying $200,000 club fees he owed members at Trump National in Jupiter, failed to pay overtime to waiters and staff at Doral (anywhere from $800 to $3,000 each) as well as a painter for a Doral renovation. Trump even tried to get out of paying a $1 million hole-in-one contest he offered, claiming the yardage was wrong, according to Reilly.

There could be financial discrepancies with his courses

On his financial-disclosure declaration during the presidential campaign, according to Reilly, Trump valued the Trump Westchester course, and every course he owned, at $50 million. However, Trump is currently suing the town of Ossining for its $11 million tax valuation of Westchester, as Trump's lawyers insist the course was only worth $1.4 million. Trump is facing similar issues with Trump Los Angeles (missed and late tax payments), and his Scottish properties at Turnberry and Aberdeen have failed to deliver the profits the Trump Organization promised to the government.

Trump is selective about believing in global warming

While Trump publicly has said climate change is a hoax, he's used global warming's effects in an application to local officials for a sea wall to protect his Trump International Links in Ireland.

The lack of Puerto Rico hurricane aid possibly stems from a Trump golf course beef

Perhaps the most audacious claim in the book, Reilly ties the humanitarian disaster in Puerto Rico to a personal grudge held by Trump. The president's Trump International (now known as Coco Beach Golf & Country Club) went bankrupt in 2015 that left Puerto Rico with a $33 million hole. The fractured relationship between Trump and the island, Reilly claims, partially explains the delayed response by the U.S. government after the hurricane's aftermath left Americans dying for water, medicine and power.

Trump illegally looked into building a golf resort in Cuba

In 1998, Reilly writes, Trump violated the American embargo on Cuba by sending a consulting firm to look into a possible golf resort. To disguise the trip, the book alleges, the business charged the venture as a "charity visit."

Arnold Palmer was apparently disgusted with Trump

Trump use to tell people he and the King were tight; Palmer told golf writer James Dodson "It was more like this," with Palmer crossing his hands and putting them on his own throat. Palmer's daughter, Peg, also recalled a moment during the 2016 campaign before Palmer passed away. "My dad made a sound of disgust—like 'uck' or 'ugg'—like he couldn't believe the arrogance and crudeness of this man who was the nominee of the political party that he believed in. Then he said, 'He's not as smart as we thought he was.'"