Donald Trump is just par for the course

‘The sport has always been contentious’: Donald Trump on the golf course. Photograph: Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images

The US president has clocked up at least 12 golfing holidays since his inauguration in January. No one should be surprised. But why golf?

The disorientating eternity that has been Donald Trump’s nascent presidency could be described as anything but par-for-course – and not only in terms of the Old Testament-grade lies and misdirection that characterise the White House’s communications. In 10 weeks, President Trump has taken no fewer than 12 golfing holidays to Mar-a-Lago, the Florida-based golfing resort he owns. Each round, according to an estimate from Politico, has cost US taxpayers in the region of $3m (£2.4m) in flights and security.

Deliciously, Trump, along with a chorus of Republicans, frequently criticised his predecessor for such playful excursions. In 2011, he tweeted: “@BarackObama played golf yesterday. Now he heads to a 10-day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard. Nice work ethic.” In August 2014, Reince Priebus, Trump’s chief of staff, wrote: “Obama’s golf outings aren’t just bad optics, they’re foolish. And voters realise that.” Even Sean Spicer, Trump’s flailing press secretary, who suggested last week that just because Trump visits Mar-a-Lago doesn’t mean that he’s playing golf there (an Instagram photograph showing the president wearing golf cleats while supposedly in meetings says otherwise), once proffered an opinion on the game. “Wish I could be on the golf course but have to work,” he wrote, in 2012, before adding: “Must be nice to be President.”

Putting aside the issue of hypocrisy (Trump is entitled to downtime; the issue is duplicity; last year he told voters that, if elected, he wouldn’t visit his golf courses again, instead remaining in the White House to “work my ass off”), why golf? Despite the inelegance of the word in the mouth – like gulping down a fly (“gol…”) before gearing up for a lingering expletive (“ffff”) – golf, with its associations of wealth and exclusivity, is the preferred sport of the business executive. As games go, it’s on-brand for brand Trump. Small wonder he owns 17 courses.

But there are also reasons to do with game design as to why golf is the preferred sport of older men. There is no great need for athleticism (“golf is a good walk spoiled”, so the old quip goes). A wag might say that it’s the ideal sport for guys who have spent their lives trying to fit things into holes. Then there’s the downtime between those percussive bursts of activity – space for socialising or deal-making. Jenova Chen, the designer of the video game Journey, once told me: “Playground games teach us about our bodies and basic social dynamics. Teenagers move on to games like soccer and basketball that teach teamwork. But people over 35 play golf, a game that isn’t really about the game so much as the social connections.”

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Source By https://www.theguardian.com

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