Before Donald Trump became president, he sent several dozen tweets criticizing then-President Barack Obama for playing golf. “I just want to stay in [the] White House [and] work my ass off,” he told reporters in February 2016. That November, Trump acknowledged that he would play golf as president, but said he would “always play with leaders of countries and people who can help us.”
Since becoming president, Trump has played a lot of golf. Specifically, he has made six trips to the golf course in 30 days. This has caused some people to suggest Trump might be a hypocrite. The White House, which seems sensitive to those allegations, has responded by keeping the press and the public in the dark about Trump’s golfing ― sometimes literally, like on Feb. 11, when administration officials made an AP reporter wait in a room with black plastic over the windows while the president played golf.
Trump’s golfing this weekend was similarly secret. Late Sunday afternoon, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a top White House press aide, told reporters Trump had played “a couple of holes” Saturday and Sunday.
It was more than a couple, and it wasn’t all with world leaders: Trump played 18 holes on Sunday with pro golfer Rory McIlroy, who’s ranked third in the world; sports agent Nick Mullen; and Richard Levine, a Trump friend, donor and frequent golf partner, McIlroy told golf blog No Laying Up.
A McIlroy rep confirmed he spoke to No Laying Up. And a photo of Trump, McIlroy, Yankees great Paul O’Neill, and sports equipment CEO Garry Singer offers more confirmation that McIlroy and the president at least spent time together this weekend:
In a statement on Monday, the White House said the golf outing lasted longer than planned. “He intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer,” Sanders said of the president. “He also had a full day of meetings, calls and interviews for the new [national security adviser].”
It should go without saying that the president of the United States is well within his rights to play golf. Many presidents have. But Trump has already spent eight of his first 31 days in office in Florida ― nearly all of it at his golf clubs. So if we’re not getting the whole truth about what happens there, and who he’s playing and meeting with, we’re literally missing a quarter of the presidency.
Maybe there’s a good reason the president doesn’t want the press witnessing his golf outings: He vehemently denies it, but he’s been repeatedly accused of cheating at golf. Boxer Oscar De La Hoya, actors Anthony Anderson and Samuel L. Jackson, and many others have accused Trump of cheating at golf.
Here’s how the president responded to Jackson’s charges: