President-elect Donald Trump has a USGA handicap index of 2.8. Is he a good golfer? Is he as good as he says he is? Does he cheat?
If his handicap is true and he’s not a sandbagger, then he’s one of the better, if not the best presidential golfer as he takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2017.
With his handicap index, Trump can be expected, on a good day, to hang around the mid-70s. On his best day, he can probably shoot right around 70 on the right golf course in the right conditions. However, Trump, as you might imagine, does not have a lot of recent scores. Instead, the reach of his handicap scores goes from September 2009 to June 2016, spanning a long time to identify his best round (70 in an August 2013 tournament round) and his worst in that range (86 in an October 2014) round.
Trump has played much more than the number of rounds he has entered, including during the campaign (despite what his campaign management has said), so we don’t have a complete picture of his play. Trump has not entered a single score from the times he’s played golf as president, and it’s likely his skills have diminished some while President. Were he to enter even his best rounds, his handicap index would likely go up substantially, closer to a 7 handicap.
Taking that all into account, we would classify Trump as what’s known as a reverse sandbagger — someone who isn’t actually as good as their handicap says and is costing themselves shots on the course for the sake of keeping a vanity handicap.
Trump, 72, has said he can still drive the ball some 285 yards off the tee. That’s likely exaggeration, though, with modern equipment, he can probably still pop the ball a good 240-250 yards.
The President has also said he has won a number of club championships at the many facilities (17) his Trump Organization golf off-shoot owns or operates. Then again, a number of his playing partners have accused him of both cheating and exaggerating his on-course performance. Several high-profile professional golfers and celebrity golf partners have said Trump is dishonest when he plays golf, to the point that it’s comical.
No matter how good of a golfer Trump is these days, he has showed the ability to play golf better than most past presidents and a majority of American hackers.