Donald Trump and golf

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Donald Trump is closely associated with the sport of golf. As a real estate developer, Trump began acquiring and constructing golf courses in 1999. By the time of his election as United States President in 2016, he owned 17 golf courses worldwide through his holding company The Trump Organization. Courses owned by Trump have been selected to host various PGA and LPGA events, including the upcoming 2022 PGA Championship.

Following his election, Trump broke precedent with recent presidents and chose not to divest from his business holdings, including his golf courses. Although not illegal, this led to criticism from ethics lawyers and journalists for potential conflicts of interest. Several lawsuits have been filed claiming that foreign payments at Trump golf courses and hotels violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. The amount of time Trump has spent golfing as president has also become a source of controversy.

Background[edit | edit source]

Donald Trump and Mark Wahlberg in 2006

According to an interview with Golf Digest, Trump began playing golf during his college years at the University of Pennsylvania.[1] In the introduction to his 2005 book The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received, Trump wrote, "for me and millions of people—men, women, young and old around the world—golf is more than a game. It is a passion."[2]

In 1999, Trump opened his first golf course: the Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach in Florida. Land for the US$45 million course was acquired through a lawsuit against Palm Beach County, Florida after Trump's purchase of the Mar-a-Lago resort.[3] By 2007, Trump owned 4 courses around the US.[3] Following the financial crisis of 2007–2008, Trump began purchasing existing golf courses and re-designing them.[4]

Golf courses owned by Trump hosted the LPGA Tour finale from 2001 to 2008, as well as the 2009 US Junior Amateur and US Junior Girls Championships.[5] In 2014, the Professional Golfers' Association of America announced a multi-year partnership with The Trump Organization. The PGA of America selected Trump golf courses to host the 2017 Senior PGA Championship and the 2022 PGA Championship.[6]

In June 2015, Trump announced his candidacy in the 2016 presidential election with a controversial speech which lead to companies such as Macy's and NBC cutting ties with the businessman.[7] While speaking on immigration, Trump claimed that Mexico is "sending people that have lots of problems... they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people," drawing criticism from immigration and Latino advocacy groups.[7] The LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and United States Golf Association issued a joint statement, saying that while the organizations "do not usually comment on Presidential politics, Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf."[8] The PGA of America also decided to re-locate the 2015 PGA Grand Slam of Golf—an exhibition match which had been scheduled to take place at Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles.[9] Other upcoming events at Trump courses were not affected.[9]

Golf courses[edit | edit source]

As of December 2016, Donald Trump owned 17 golf courses in the United States and abroad:[10]

Trump also previously licensed his name to the Trump International Golf Club in Puerto Rico, which served as host of the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open. The course filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015. According to Trump Organization executive vice president Eric Trump, the organization "merely licensed our name for a fee and have nothing to do with the ownership, development or entity."[11]

Presidency[edit | edit source]

Following his election in 2016, Trump announced that he would not divest his business holdings, as other recent presidents had. Instead, Trump kept his ownership stake in The Trump Organization and appointed his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump to manage the business.[12] In an unusual rebuke from the Office of Government Ethics, director Walter Shaub called Trump's actions "wholly inadequate" and "meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective."[13] In an interview with The New York Times, Trump explained: "As far as the, you know, potential conflict of interests, though, I mean I know that from the standpoint, the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest."[14]

Trump and Shinzō Abe

Just days after his inauguration, a lawsuit was filed in federal court seeking to block the president from receiving payments from foreign government entities at his businesses. The lawsuit alleged that these payments constitute a violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution.[15] In February 2017, the president invited Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe to play at the Trump International Golf Club in Florida and stay at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. Legal and ethical concerns were raised by organizations such as the Sunlight Foundation over foreign payments the president may receive from the visit. Trump has vowed to donate any such payments to the Treasury Department, although the specifics of this arrangement remain unclear.[16] In June 2017, the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a separate lawsuit, claiming the president was "flagrantly violating" the Emoluments Clause.[17]

A 2016 investigation by USA Today found that lobbyists and corporate executives had been purchasing memberships at Trump golf courses in order to gain favor or contact with the president. Membership fees at Trump courses can exceed US$100,000, leading to ethical concerns over a sitting president accepting money from people lobbying the government.[18]

Trump has also generated controversy due to the amount of time he has spent golfing while president. Despite frequently criticizing his predecessor Barack Obama for his numerous golf outings, Trump golfed 11 times during his first eight weeks in office.[19] According to CNN, Trump visited Trump-owned golf courses 91 times in 2017, although the White House does not disclose whether or not the president actually played on each of those visits.[20] Journalists and ethics experts have alleged that these frequent visits are a means of boosting publicity at the courses in order to sell more memberships.[21][22][23] White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has defended the president's golfing, stating that his time on the course is spent "developing deeper and better relationships with members of Congress in which those relationships have helped push forward the President's agenda."[20]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Barton, John (October 13, 2014). "Donald Trump: I'm Huge!". Golf Digest. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  2. Trump, Donald J. (2005). Trump: The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received. Crown/Archetype. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-307-23854-2. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Donald Trump: King of Clubs". Golf. May 3, 2014. Retrieved February 21, 2007. 
  4. DiMeglio, Steve (March 3, 2015). "Donald Trump brings new life to world of golf". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  5. Passov, Joe (May 3, 2014). "Donald Trump lands 2022 PGA Championship for Trump Bedminster after years of trying to secure a men's major". Golf. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  6. "PGA, Trump announce major partnership" (Press release). Palm Beach Gardens, Florida: Professional Golfers' Association of America. May 1, 2014. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Miller, Jake (July 2, 2015). "Is Donald Trump's presidential campaign bad for his business?". CBS News. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  8. Beall, Joel (July 1, 2015). "Should golf evaluate its relationship with Donald Trump?". Golf Digest. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Prunty, Brendan (July 7, 2015). "P.G.A. Moves Event From Donald Trump Golf Course". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  10. Garcia, Ahiza (December 29, 2016). "Trump's 17 golf courses teed up: Everything you need to know". CNNMoney. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  11. Allen, Karma (July 13, 2015). "Trump golf club in Puerto Rico files for bankruptcy". CNBC. Retrieved January 21, 2018. 
  12. Schouten, Fredreka (January 11, 2017). "Top government ethics official denounces Trump's business plans". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  13. Rein, Lisa (January 11, 2017). "Federal ethics chief blasts Trump’s plan to break from businesses, calling it ‘meaningless’". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  14. "Donald Trump’s New York Times Interview: Full Transcript". The New York Times. November 23, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  15. Lipton, Eric; Liptak, Adam (January 22, 2017). "Foreign Payments to Trump Firms Violate Constitution, Suit Will Claim". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  16. Siemaszko, Corky (February 9, 2017). "Japanese PM’s Golf Trip To Trump Resort Hits Ethical Sand Trap". NBC News. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  17. Davis, Aaron C.; Tumulty, Karen (June 12, 2017). "D.C. and Maryland AGs: Trump ‘flagrantly violating’ emoluments clause". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  18. Heath, Brad; Schouten, Fredreka; Reilly, Steve; Penzenstadler, Nick; Madhani, Aamer (September 8, 2017). "Trump gets millions from golf members. CEOs and lobbyists get access to president". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  19. Beall, Joel (March 20, 2017). "President Trump appears to still really like golf, makes 11th trip to course in eight weeks in office". Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 Cillizza, Chris (January 3, 2018). "Donald Trump's huge golf hypocrisy". CNN. Retrieved January 22, 2018. 
  21. Kumar, Anita (July 7, 2017). "Trump personally pockets club membership fees, breaking with industry norms". Miami Herald. Retrieved January 23, 2018. 
  22. Goodkind, Nicole (January 20, 2018). "In his first year as president, Trump spent one third of his time visiting his own properties". Newsweek. Retrieved January 23, 2018. 
  23. Brown, Taylor Kate (January 18, 2018). "What happened to worries about Trump's business?". BBC News. Retrieved January 23, 2018. 

External links[edit | edit source]