President Donald Trump plays a lot of golf. Like it or not, that’s a fact of his presidency.
Since the Secret Service has to protect the president at all times, and a country club covers a lot of acreage, and Trump only rides in a cart when he plays golf, they have to find a way to keep up with POTUS. Since Trump won the November 2016 presidential election, then, the Secret Service has been renting golf carts to make sure they can protect Trump when he’s on the golf course.
More than two years since he defeated Hillary Clinton, Trump has spent more than 260 days of his presidency on a golf course. All but two of those days has been on a golf course he owns. (He played golf twice with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan.) Almost all of the days he’s spent at his clubs have been at one of three places: Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.; Trump National Golf Club Washington D.C. in northern Virginia; or Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in Bedminster, N.J.
When Trump is at those properties, the Secret Service is in golf carts rented from local vendors. The Secret Service needs golf carts that go faster than the standard cart; their carts go 19 mph instead of the more common 14 mph. The configurations of their carts also have specific features golf carts at Trump-owned golf clubs cannot accommodate.
How much has been spent on golf carts
As of December 2018, the Secret Service, under the budgeting direction of the Department of Homeland Security, had committed $367,875 to golf cart rentals for Trump’s protection detail. To date, $307,360 has been spent, with another $60,515 remaining to be spent through June 17, 2019, with Maddox Joines Inc., doing business as Sunshine Golf Cars, in Delray Beach, Fla.
A new order, signed to execute on April 1, 2020, committed another $45,000 for golf-cart rentals, and an order was signed in May for $179,000 in additional golf cart rentals, meaning the grand total has increased to $765,425.
As it became clear Trump would be spending a lot of his free time on the golf course, the Secret Service transitioned from short-term (usually 30-day) contracts to longer-range (more like 6-month) deals.
In addition, the Secret Service has spent at least $950,000 to stay overnight at Trump-owned properties, including Mar-a-Lago and Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
Who’s getting the money?
The Secret Service has worked with three golf cart vendors so far. Maddox Joines Inc (Sunshine Golf Cars) is the latest vendor for Trump’s Florida trips to Mar-a-Lago, while Associates Golf Car Service, Inc. of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has apparently been the vendor at Trump National Bedminster. Curiously, we had been unable to find contracts specific to golf carts at Trump National in northern Virginia until the April 2020 deal with West Virginia-based Capitol Golf Cars and Utility Vehicles.
All told, the Secret Service spends about $2,000 per day Trump spends at his US golf courses.
Though the deal with Maddox Joines through June should cover Trump’s golf travels until the summer of 2019, when Trump spends weekends in New Jersey. There will need to be another contract akin to the $118,000 Associates deal to cover the remainder of 2019.
How much will be spent in total?
At this point, the Secret Service will have spent some $586,425 through March 2020, committing the money through September 2020. Based on our original projection, the Secret Service would have to spend approximately $591,000 to protect Trump on the golf course in his first term. Now, it appears that estimate was low.
That figure would presumably double to nearly $1.5 million were he to win and serve out a second term, though that total could increase further depending on Trump’s political fortunes and if/when he would become a lame-duck president.