President Donald Trump, through his Trump Organization, owns or operates 17 different golf courses or properties around the world, including 12 in the United States, two in Dubai (one open, another opening in 2020), one in Ireland and two in Scotland, as well planned courses in Indonesia.
Two of those U.S. golf courses are close to his Mar-a-Lago private club in West Palm Beach, Fla., and that’s where Trump plays the bulk of his golf as President in the winter. He spends plenty of time at his golf club in Sterling, Va., about 20 miles from the White House. He also loves to stay at his Summer White House at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.
How many times has Trump played golf as President of the United States? Since taking office on Jan. 20, 2017, Mr. Trump has reportedly been on the grounds of his golf courses or played golf elsewhere 308 times since becoming President, and that’s as of Dec. 30, 2020.
The cost of Trump’s golf rounds to the American taxpayer varies by round and course, but it has totaled so far in the tens of millions of dollars. The Secret Service has spent at least $550,000 in third-party golf cart rentals and over $500,000 to stay overnight at Trump-owned properties, including his New Jersey country club.
He previously was on pace to visit his golf clubs more than 650 times in an eight-year presidency. However, his pace as of Aug. 6, 2018 now indicates Trump would spend as much as 745 days of his presidency at a golf course if he wins a second term and serves both terms to completion.
Trump ended 2017 with 91 golf course visits and was just shy of 100 visits in Year 1 as President. In his second year as President, Trump played golf 76 times.
Trump has spent nearly 22 percent of his days in office at one of his golf properties for some portion of the day. There have been days where Trump has visited one of his golf clubs and not played golf. He made a 40-minute visit to his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., and he has made a three-day visit to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., to watch the 2017 US Women’s Open, unfolding at that club. Trump spent a 17-day “working vacation” at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., in August, which meant all of those days count as days on his golf courses, even though he didn’t necessarily play golf on all of those days.
Trump claims to have a USGA handicap index under 5, but he is thought to have a vanity handicap that makes him seem better at the sport than he is.
Trump has played golf with friends, famous people (including golfers Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau and Ernie Els) and for political and diplomatic purposes. He played with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who has been an opponent of Trump’s health-care reform plans, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has become an ally on taxes. He played with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in February and November in 2017, as well in April 2018. He’s played with legendary quarterback Peyton Manning and Tennessee senator Bob Corker. He does seem to struggle with basic etiquette at times, as Donald Trump has driven a golf cart on a green.
We don’t know if Trump has played golf every time he shows up to one of his clubs. That’s because the Trump Administration has gone out of its way to bar the White House press pool from shadowing President Trump when he goes to his golf clubs. That means Trump could be playing golf, or he could be hitting golf balls on the range, or he could be twiddling his thumbs. We don’t know, and the Trump Administration won’t say.
A prime example came when Trump played golf with Rory McIlroy ahead of his comeback to the PGA Tour. Trump officials asked McIlroy if he would play at the last minute on Saturday night for a Sunday tee time. McIlroy chose to take up the President on the offer, but the White House not only did not disclose Trump was playing golf with McIlroy, they didn’t acknowledge that Trump played more than a previously stated intention of a few holes. The group played a full 18. It wasn’t until McIlroy spoke about the round to No Laying Up that the Trump Administration had to correct the record.
The frequency with which Trump plays golf isn’t really an issue — just as it wasn’t for former President Barack Obama. The presidency is an overwhelmingly difficult job, and the office-holder is certainly entitled to a handful of hours every week to take a load off. However, Trump was particularly critical of how many rounds President Barack Obama played in office, and so now he looks somewhat hypocritical in retrospect.