A Brief History of Accusations That Donald Trump Cheats at Golf
Donald Trump almost certainly cheats at golf. He denies this vehemently, just as he denies that there is violence at his campaign rallies. (There is definitely violence at his campaign rallies.) And while we may not have video of Donald secretly moving his ball into the fairway, the way we do of his supporters punching people, there are plenty of people who have come out and said they saw the cheating firsthand.
The latest accuser is Oscar de la Hoya, who told the AP this week that he once caught Trump breaking the rules twice in two holes while playing with him. And not in a mild, excusable way, either:
“Donald, what he does is he tees off first so we go off to our balls and what do we see but Donald Trump right in the middle of the fairway,” De La Hoya said. “He said, ‘Hey look, I found my first ball.’”
On the next hole, a par-3, De La Hoya said Trump hit into some bushes and again went ahead of the other players in his cart. When the rest of the group got to the green, he said Trump’s ball was 3 feet from the hole.
“And by the way I’m picking it up,” De La Hoya quoted Trump as saying. “It’s a gimme.”
The former boxing champ is far from the first person to be baffled by the Donald’s golf game. In January, Samuel L. Jackson was asked about the differences between the presumptive Republican nominee’s style of play and his own. His answer was devastatingly simple: “I don’t cheat.”
Trump was having none of it:
I don’t cheat at golf but @SamuelLJackson cheats—with his game he has no choice—and stop doing commercials!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2016
Trump would never cheat, because Trump abhors cheaters. Just ask, uh, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson.
After Friday’s Twilight release, I hope Robert Pattinson will not be seen in public with Kristen--she will cheat on him again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 13, 2012
I’m tempted to insert here a mention of Trump’s own documented history of spousal indiscretion, but we’re getting off track. This is about golf, not obscenely wealthy men who like to mess around on their wives.
Anyway, about a month after the Jackson dustup, Anthony Anderson backed his fellow actor up, saying he’d played in a game with both Jackson and Trump and witnessed some shenanigans himself. From The Hollywood Reporter:
“Trump is a great golfer. I’m not going to say Trump cheats,” Anderson told Meyers. “His caddy cheats for him.”
Meyers asked if Anderson actually saw the cheating happening.
“Oh yes, several times. Several times,” said Anderson. “I mis-hit a ball — it hooked a little left about 20 yards. Trump hit the exact same shot but went 20 yards further left than mine. I could not find my ball in this trash. Trump’s ball had the fluffiest lie in the middle of the fairway. Like I say, I didn’t see Trump cheat because he was on the t-box with me, but his ball was right there in the middle of the fairway.”
That specific mode of cheating—hitting a bad hook or slice, then having a caddy surreptitiously put the ball in the fairway—sounds suspiciously similar to an apparent rumor among employees at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey about the club’s sputtering, tangerine-faced owner.
The Washington Post’s Ben Terris did a thorough investigation into the cheating accusations against Trump last year, and heard this tidbit from a former caddy at Trump National:
Jonathan Carr spent the 2007 and 2008 golf seasons caddying at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. He remembers a gregarious club owner who treated the caddies with the utmost respect, a man who, despite lacking a “pristine” golf swing, played with a high level of skill and an even higher level of confidence. Carr never saw Trump come close to bending the rules, although he said everyone who caddied there had heard of that reputation.
“The caddies would say, ‘If I get on his bag, I’m going to make sure he always has a good lie,’ ” Carr said, meaning that even if Trump shanked a ball, the caddies would do what they could to place it on the fairway.
Jonathan Carr, the caddy, said he didn’t specifically see Trump cheating, but plenty of other quoted in Terris’s story said that hey had.
There was a Sports Illustrated editor who said Trump’s ball would mysteriously appear on the green after he’d been “hacking in the weeds.” There was Rick Reilly, who said Trump is an “11 on a scale of one to 10" when it came to golf cheating. There was the aging rocker Alice Cooper, who once answered a question about the “worst celebrity golf cheat” by saying “I played with Donald Trump one time. That’s all I’m going to say.”
The rumors aren’t even particularly new: way back in 2006, TMZ gave the following quite detailed account of Trump’s shenanigans on the links, citing “multiple sources” who’d seen it happen.
Numerous sources tell us The Donald shanked his shot from the tee out of bounds into the weeds. He then proceeded to drive his golf cart - alone- down to find his ball. When he noticed his ball went into the natural preserve area, he turned his golf cart to block him as he took a ball out of his pocket, looked over at his partners to make sure they weren’t watching, and rolled the new ball into the rough.
The rule in golf is when you hit your ball into the natural preserve, it’s played as a lateral hazard. This means you drop your ball 2 club lengths from point of entry. Donald’s ball was dropped much further than 2 club lengths from point of entry - more like 4 or 5.
When the new roll sunk too deep into the rough grass, Trump picked up the ball and placed it higher in the grass to improve the lie of his ball. The Donald then got into his golf cart to drive back to his partners to tell them he found his ball.
Trump frequently touts his own abilities on the course, but even his ostensible allies have called them into question. A New York Times profile of Trump’s butler from earlier this year contained this passage about the boss’s game:
Mr. Trump is abundantly proud of his ability to drive a golf ball, once asking rhetorically during a news conference: “Do I hit it long? Is Trump strong?”
Mr. Senecal suggested that Mr. Trump was perhaps not quite as strong as he imagined, remembering times they would hit balls together from the Mar-a-Lago property into the Intracoastal Waterway.
“Tony, how far is that?” Mr. Trump would ask.
“It’s like 275 yards,” Mr. Senecal would respond, though he said the actual distance was 225 yards.
What could it be that’s holding Trump back, keeping him from meeting his full Tiger Woods potential (golf-wise)? Maybe it’s those tiny hands of his.