August 29, 2017

Washington Post: Five Myths About Golf

By Leonard Shapiro



Trump is the best and most passionate presidential golfer.

Ahead of the inauguration, Golf Digest magazine ranked Donald Trump   the best of the past 16 golfer presidents. And judging from his first six months in office, when he spent about  20 percent of his time  at one of his golf clubs, he could set the record for total rounds played by a president if he manages to serve two terms. Then again, there’s no official Trump tally because the White House press office won’t say when he plays.

As for his skill level, his claim of having a 2.8 handicap index — meaning he’d generally shoot in the mid-70s on a par 72 course — surely qualifies as serious fake news. According to a recent  story in Sports Illustrated, Trump’s handicap index is artificially low, mostly because (surprise, surprise) he doesn’t always play by the rules. In fact, he cheats. “Trump will sometimes respond to a shot he duffed [hit poorly] by simply playing a second ball and carrying on as if the first shot never happened,” according to SI writer Alan Shipnuck. “In the parlance of the game, Trump takes floating mulligans, usually more than one during a round. Because of them it is impossible to say what he has actually shot on any given day, according to 18 people who have teed it up with Trump over the last decade.” In the same article, four-time major championship winner Ernie Els, who has known Trump for many years, estimated that he’s closer to an 8- or 9-handicapper, usually shooting in the respectable low 80s.

By comparison, John F. Kennedy shot in the high 70s and low 80s, despite back problems that limited his swing and participation. He didn’t play much after being elected in 1960, because his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, came under criticism for too many days on the course.


Golf is a sport for white elites.

Sticking with Trump for a moment, in a 2015  interview   he told Fortune magazine: “Let golf be elitist. . . . Let people work hard and aspire to someday be able to play golf. To afford to play it.”

Certainly golf once deserved that reputation. And in a few places, it still does. But by and large, the game has become far more diverse, far more inclusive and far more welcoming.

According to the National Golf Foundation, 75 percent of the courses in the United States are public, and the average peak-season fee at those courses is $38. Annual memberships at private clubs can run in the four and five digits, with initiation fees going even higher. But the vast majority of private clubs also have nondiscrimination policies.


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