If you’re not into golf, you might not notice when a new book on the subject gets released. But “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump” by Rick Reilly is not just a golf book, and what it reveals about its orange-haired title character deserves attention. The book, published by Hachette last month, exposes the absurd extent to which Trump cheats at golf. Its goal is to point out that the Trump who putts around on the green is the same Trump who putzes around in the Oval Office.
Reilly’s own experience, along with interviews with others who have played golf with Trump, prove the premise, which Hachette puts this way: “An outrageous indictment of Donald Trump’s appalling behavior when it comes to golf — on and off the green — and what it reveals about his character.” For starters, Reilly estimates Trump’s handicap to be between 7 and 10, yet Trump insists it is only 2.8. Reilly calls this a “Trump Bump” and Hachette even offers an online calculator to help you calculate yours, regardless of your playing level. Hachette then sarcastically advises: “Don’t forget to apply the Trump Bump to other areas of your life from how tall you are, to how much you weigh and what your net worth is – whatever makes you the winner is the truth in Trump’s eyes!”
Trump’s golf handicap lie only scratches the surface of what amounts to profound deceit. According to Reilly, Trump’s boast of rarely losing games while racking up championships is, to use Trump’s words, totally fake news. As an example, in a recent interview with Vox.com, Reilly recounted the “wild” story about what Trump did after he missed a club championship at Trump International near Mar-a-Lago. When he arrived later, he caught up with businessman Ted Virtue in the middle of a game with his son. After congratulating Virtue on his victory, Trump then told him that “you didn’t really win it, because I was out of town.” He then inserted himself in the game, which he declared is “for the championship.” When Trump’s ball went into a pond, his loyal caddy claimed Virtue’s son’s ball as Trump’s and gaslighted the pair about what was happening. Trump then claimed the club championship based on the partial, informal, belated, and deceptive game.
In golf, as in life, Donald Trump has no regard for rules, and cares only about winning in any way he can. In the interview, Reilly pointed out that golf is “built on self-governance” and so it resembles a “Rorschach test for your morality.” He is right. Trump’s golf game is like a window into how this President of the United States would rule if given the chance to be a full-fledged dictator. Perhaps Trump should heed the words of Jack Nicklaus, who won a record 18 major championships through honesty and talent: “This is a game. That’s all it is. It’s not a war.” You can read the book here.