Golf to Rick Reilly, a longtime, highly respected golf writer for Sports Illustrated, is almost a religion. His background in the game goes back decades. He looks at the sport, like many around the world, as the Holy Grail of honesty, self-regulation, decorum. Golf, to millions, is a game of decency, politeness, respect, sportsmanship and gambling! To others, it is a great game of comradery, challenge, exercise and competition at any age from 10 to 90! As Reilly has written, golf has always been in my family. “Golf solves everything. Our very bones are made of balata. The whole family golfs-nieces, uncles, aunts, nearly every single one of us.” The Reilly family has a yearly family golf event called the Reilly Roundup! “Everyone wears a yellow shirt like the one we buried my dad in! So when a man like President Donald Trump pees all over the game I love, lies about it, cheats at it and literally drives tracks all over it, it digs a divot in my soul!” (page 238)
This book is about Trump, golf, and his cheating, dishonesty, lies, and the lack of character. But of course, every page (241) of Reilly’s book is devoted to three interconvertible realities: he is a liar, a cheat and doesn’t pay his debts! Maybe the most direct statement was by LPGA golfer, Suzanne Petersen, who has firsthand experience, “He cheats like hell!” (page 36)
“Trump doesn’t just cheat at golf, he cheats like a Three Card Monte dealer!” He throws it boots it, and moves the ball, or his caddy does it for him. Remember Oddjob caddying for Auric Goldfinger in his match against James Bond! “He lies about his lies. He fudges and foozles and fluffs. At Winged Foot where Trump is still a member, the caddies got so used to seeing him kick the ball onto the fairway they came up with a nickname for him, Pele!” (page37)
One time an old singer/songwriter friend of Reilly’s played Golf with Trump at his Trump Los Angeles Club. Every club he buys at a discount he renames the club with his name and brands it with the city’s name. Unfortunately, Trump LA is nowhere near LA. In fact, almost all of his “Trump” clubs are no where he names them! “On the very first hole Trump kicked his ball from the rough into the fairway. ‘Wait a second (his opponent) yelled, so this is how it’s going to be today Donald?’” Of course, what else would we expect from DT, “Oh, Trump explained, ‘all the guys I play with throw it out of the rough, you have to do it with them to keep up with them!’” As Reilly wrote, “Just for the record, I’ve played for 50 years and I only know one guy who does this and his picture is on the cover!” (page 39)
By the way, he buys clubs at deep discounts, values them at 10 times their value and when it comes to paying taxes, he claims they are worth virtually nothing! This goes on everywhere he can fight the assessor and get away with it. Who gets stiffed? The local community!
Once Trump hosted three ESPN broadcasters; Mike Tirico. Jon Gruden and Ron Jawarski. No one at his clubs will play with him, except his guests. “Off they went, and at one point they were playing a blind (dog leg) par 5 and Tirico, who’s a 12.4 handicap (that’s his average over par, determined by all his submitted rounds he has played. That is also golf’s way to create a competitive game between players of different abilities), had 230 yards to reach the green. He hit the 3 wood of his life.” It wound up being a fantastic shot. “’Oh my God,’ his caddy said, open mouthed. The ball crested the hill perfectly, was going tight to the pin!” Of course, Tirico was quite excited, and he “high fived his caddy and strode to the green his shoes hardly touching the grass!” Interestingly, when he approached the green, “the ball wasn’t near the pin (the hole). It wasn’t even on the green, it was 50 feet to the left of the pin, in the bunker (sand trap).”
“Lousy break” Trump said to Tirico. Then Tirico checked the ball to see if it was his, and it was. He was “pretty befuddled, and it took Tirico 2 swipes to escape the bunker on his way to a 7,” instead of putting for an eagle (a three on a Par 5). After the match, “Tirico remembers, Trump’s caddy came up to me and said, ‘you know that shot you hit on the par 5, it was about 10 feet from the hole! Trump threw it in the bunker (trap). I watched him do it!’” (page 29)
By the way, in Scotland, even though Trump’s mother was a Scot and his brother tapped out on Scotch, they despise the King of Self. According to Rick Reilly, when DT was in Turnberry, Scotland and “On the day after the UK’s Brexit vote, Trump happened to be there and he tweeted, ‘Just arrived in Scotland, place is going wild over the vote. They took their country back, just like we will take America back.’” (back, and from whom?) Of course, as usual, the King of Self, didn’t realize that Scotland voted 62% against Brexit! (page 78) Of course, later he said, “You know, my mother is from here, I am Scotch!” Too bad that’s a whisky, they don’t like to be called Scotch, but Scottish! (page 72). As for Scotland, every time he comes to his course, which his hemorrhaging millions of dollars each year, he faces incredibly protests from the local citizenry! They don’t hate him, they despise him. I would quote what is said on the signs, but I don’t write that language.
There’s a famous story about the time DT lost $50 to a guy at Winged Foot (where I caddied as a mere lad as a young teenager in 1958 and 1959.) Trump (after losing) said he didn’t have any cash to pay! “That’s okay, the guy said, I’ll take a check. Trump said he didn’t have any checks on him! That’s okay, I’ll get a bank draft for $50.” He drives to a bank and gets one, and bring it back to the club and Trump signs it. “Weeks later, Trump sees him, pissed off” He says, “You cashed my check!” Of course I did!” Trump says, “Nobody chases my checks, they frame them!” (page 94)
Part II- Commander in Cheat
In the words of Donald Trump, “I like having friends, but I like having enemies more!” (page 132). I’ll include one story that really caught my eye. Aside from his stiffing vendors, playing through foursomes that were ahead of him, the countless protests at his course, the objections of people living near his course, his draconian actions against anyone who displeases him, his threats of litigation, his empty promises to zoning boards, his violations of written agreements, his losses in court, his fights with club architects, and employees, this event sums up Trump! Reilly tells this story about Winged Foot, a place I am quite familiar with. “Trump likes talking tough, fistfights in golf are rare, but Trump likes telling a story about the time he punched a guy out at Winged Foot. “It was a big handsome asshole, Trump told me, ‘And he was being a complete jerk” So I sink this putt on the 9th hole to win the match and then I turn to him and coldcock him, just knock him, out right there on the green!…They ended up suspending both of us, I was back off suspension after two weeks and he never got back in!’”
Of course, the whole story was a complete fabrication from beginning to end, regarding who won the match on the 9th hole. Matches are won on the 18th. If Trump suddenly swung, why was the other guy booted, and why for good? According to folks at Winged Foot, that’s not what happened. “First of all, Trump is not well liked at Winged Foot,” says member Bill Fugazy (who I have met through the O’Hara’s many times), and who has known Trump for years and whose late father (who I also met) also knew him there. “He’s just bad news to be around, a weird guy. It is hard for hard for him to get a game.”
“When it happened, he was playing by himself.” At Winged Foot the there is no back nine, the turn is at the 10th so one starts again at the 11th tee ( there is a back 8). According to Fugazy, “But the guys ahead of him were getting on the tee. One of them goes, ‘Donald, what do you think you are doing?’ Trump goes, ‘Playing through.” The guy goes, ‘Yeah? Well, usually you ask permission for that. That’s kinda of rude!’ Words were exchanged, Trump goes, ‘Get the f-k out of my way.’ The guy goes, ‘Who are you talking to?’ Trump shoves him and leaves the course. He was brought in and suspended!’”
In the words of Bill Fugazy, “Who’s he going to punch?” Fugazy says, “He’s got tiny spongey hands, He couldn’t punch anybody!” Doesn’t that sound familiar? (page 135)
Again, the list of people that Reilly cites who have witnessed his cheating is almost endless. “He even declares that any putt he has under 6 or even 8 feet is a ‘gimmie’” What is a “gimmie” a term which ever golfer understands? It is when an opponent who tells YOU that the putt, usually under 18 inches is good. No one can “take” a ‘gimmie!” It is not taken, but given!
By the way, as I had mentioned, I caddied, as a teenager, for two summers at Winged Foot GC, in 1958 and 1959, and never saw anyone ever do that. In fact, I have walked around that course with my friend Bill O’Hara, whose family have been members since 1946, many times, from the 1960s through the early 90’s. In fact, I remember, as if it were yesterday, an old member of Winged Foot, the legendary SB Mastin, take nine strokes out of one of Winged Foot’s very tough sand traps. He had a bad back and actually wore a brace and couldn’t really bend. He told his playing partner that he took a nine!
I played golf with my father from 1959 at the Ryewood GC (Rye, NY) to the 1990s at Leewood GC (Eastchester, NY) and never saw anyone do that. I have played golf very casually for 60 years and yes, I have improved my lie many times, but, I have never played any kind of a match in decades since my early 20s and rarely have I seen a minute fraction of what Reilly writes about Trump. I play strictly for recreation, fresh air and to hit a good shot twice in a row! But, not only is he a con man, and an endemic liar, but an endemic cheat.
My father, Milton Garfunkel, who was scrupulously honest, in every endeavor he partook, loved golf, and played it until his mid-90’s. He never talked about his rounds, he never bragged, he never demeaned anyone else, and he actually had two “Holes in One” within a few weeks of each other when he was in his 80s. I played golf with him when I was 14 and when I was in my late 40s.
“But why? Why does Trump cheat so much when he’s already a decent player? How can he be so shameless to cheat right in front of people? They call him on it, but he just shrugs and cheats some more.” From my perspective he is a mentally ill person, but Reilly writes from the perspective of the world of golf. As he wrote, “It ruined his reputation in the golf world.” As Reilly continues, “90% of the people I interviewed- on and off- the record say he openly cheats. A lot of them say they stopped playing with him because of it. So why? Why cheat? Why lie? Why exaggerate his handicap, his scores, his so-called club championships?”
By the way, he has never won a club championship at all. Talking of matches with others, he tweeted-“Golf match? (with Mark Cuban) I’ve won 18 Club Championships, @mcuban swings like a little girl with no power or talent, Mark’s a loser.” Donald Trump (Twitter, March 19, 2013.) To Trump, everyone is a loser! “Eighteen championships? That’s like an NFL quarterback telling you he has won 18 Super Bowls!” It is preposterous, it is a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day float of a lie. (page 4). “In an interview with the Washington Post, he said, humbly, ‘My life has been about victories. I’ve won a lot, I win a lot. I win – when I do something. I win. And even in sports, I always won. I was always a good athlete,
And, I always won. In golf, I’ve won many club championships. Many, many club championships. And I have people that can play golf great, but they can’t win under pressure, So. I’ve always won!’” (page 5). In fact, he has never WON any championship or any event!
Each claim is an out and out lie, fabrication or ridiculous story. Reilly explains every single one of his ludicrous claims, and frankly, they are beyond imagination. Trump would play a round of golf on the same day as a club event, cheat through the round, post a totally phony score, go into the clubhouse later and say that he had a better round, and tell the management of HIS club, that he is the club champion! Believe it! I have never heard or read anything like this in my life. These stories could come out of the film “Caddy Shack!” (page 40)
A true measurement of Trump’s game was the American Century Celebrity Championships at Lake Tahoe. “Tahoe gets a stellar, raucous field of celebs most years- ex-athletes, actors, singer, scratch players (no handicap), and duffers. Trump played the event three times- 2004, 2005, and 2006.”
“In those three tries, he never finished in the top half of the field. The first year he was 56th out of 80.” As for the next two attempts, “he finished 42nd out of 80 and finally, in that calamitous 2006 Tahoe tournament, he finished 62d out of 80 and averaged 89.3 per round, and that’s with Tahoe’s rule that no player can take worse than a double bogey on a hole (two over par).” That doesn’t sound like someone who claims to be a 2.3 handicap (or plays around 2 over par!). (page 51) More lies!
Meanwhile, “the answer to this psychosis came from Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. Lance Dodes, co-author of ‘The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump’”. Dr. Dodes explains, “He needs to be the best at everything. He can’t standf not winning, not being the best. It have to have started very early in his development. To him, not being the best is like fingernails on a blackboard to you. He can’t live with it…he exaggerates everything. He has to. He exhibits all the traits of a narcissistic personality disorder. People with this disorder have no conscience about it. He has no sense of morality about things. He lacks empathy to others. He is a very ill man! He doesn’t get that other people have rights or feelings. Other people don’t just don’t matter to him.” Of course, I didn’t need a Harvard trained psychiatrist to explain this to me. He did the clinical analysis, but any person, with half a wit about them, could recognize his syndrome. He is an unfeeling, insensitive, brutal and sick person, who should not be the head of anything, no less position of authority.
This book is a most cogent and documented analysis of Trump, Trump World, and I recommend it to all who are interested in the future of America and who enjoy and love golf. The stories are remarkable. They cover his history of his “stiffing” of vendors, cheating his associates (he has no real friends), golfing with the pros, who look the other way, reneging on deals, along with his threats, his unlimited litigation and his fabrication of events. This book is Trump, a liar, a cheat and a fraud!