President Donald Trump has pushed his taxpayer-funded golf tab past $170 million ($118 million US) on his 26th visit to Mar-a-Lago, his for-profit resort in Palm Beach, Florida, with a Saturday visit to his course in neighbouring West Palm Beach.
The new total is the equivalent of 296 years of the $400,000 presidential salary that his supporters often boast that he is not taking.
And of that $118.3 million, at least several million has gone into Trump’s own cash registers, as Secret Service agents, White House staff and other administration officials stay and eat at his hotels and golf courses.
The exact amount going into Trump’s pocket cannot be determined because the White House refuses to reveal how many Trump aides have been staying at his properties when he visits them and the administration will not turn over receipts for the charges incurred.
Trump’s White House on Saturday also ignored queries regarding Trump’s golf partners, continuing its practice of keeping that information secret unless he plays with a celebrity or with Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.). Previous administrations routinely disclosed the president’s golf partners.
At this exact point in former President Barack Obama’s first term, he had spent 88 days on a golf course. Saturday was Trump’s 227th day as president on a course that he owns. If Trump continues golfing at the pace he has set in his first three years, he will surpass in just one term the total number of days Obama spent golfing over two full terms — despite having repeatedly criticised Obama for playing too much golf and having promised, as a candidate, that he would be too busy to play any golf at all.
Just three years into his presidency, Trump’s travel and security expenses for his golf hobby exceed an estimate of eight years worth of expenses incurred by Obama’s family travel by millions of dollars.
The conservative group Judicial Watch said in 2017 that its tally of Obama’s travel costs, based on documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, had hit $105.7 million. That total, though, appears to include official trips by Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, as well as some campaign-related travel that was partially reimbursed by the Democratic Party.
Trump’s costs are so much higher than Obama’s because Trump insists on playing golf at his own courses — primarily in Bedminster, New Jersey, and Florida — during which he greets and spends time with paying club members whose dues continue to enrich him. Each trip to Bedminster costs taxpayers about $1.1 million, while each Mar-a-Lago trip costs about $3.4 million. Trump has also visited his courses in Los Angeles; Doral, Florida; Turnberry, Scotland; and Doonbeg, Ireland — all on the taxpayer dime.
In contrast, while Obama typically took expensive vacations twice a year — one to Martha’s Vineyard and one to his home state of Hawaii — the vast majority of his golf outings were to courses on military bases a short drive from the White House.
Trump’s trip to Turnberry in 2018 cost taxpayers an extra $3 million beyond what it would have cost had he remained in London prior to his summit in Helsinki with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. His trip to Ireland this summer cost taxpayers $3.6 million more than if he’d simply returned to Washington following his visit to London and Normandy, France.