(WASHINGTON) — Many U.S. presidents have enjoyed playing golf, but as acclaimed sports writer Rick Reilly puts it in his new book, “No president has been as up to his clavicles in golf as Donald Trump.”
“Trump doesn’t just play courses; he builds them, buys them, owns them, operates them, sues over them, lies about them, bullies with them, and brags about them,” Reilly writes in his new book, “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump.”
Reilly said he played golf with Trump at one of his courses in preparation for a book Reilly published in 2004. As the pair spent the day together, Trump introduced Reilly as the publisher and owner of Sports Illustrated, despite the fact that he was neither, Reilly told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and Political Director Rick Klein on the Powerhouse Politics podcast. Reilly started his sports writing career in 1979 and wrote for Sports Illustrated from 1985 to 2007, according to his website. He is also a member of the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
And Trump is not the only president Reilly has played with. In 1995, he writes, he played with former President Bill Clinton.
“He cheated in a kind of a different way. He would take — they came to call them Billigans,” Reilly told Karl and Klein. “And Clinton carried 24 clubs in his bag which is also cheating.”
“But the difference is he wasn’t trying to win. He wasn’t trying to make you worse,” Reilly added.
Despite questioning the fairness of the president’s methods, Reilly does not believe that Trump is a bad golfer
“He is a good golfer, there’s no reason to lie,” said Reilly, who finds Trump’s reported 2.8 handicap questionable, to say the least.
“I thought he was a 9 or 10,” Reilly told Klein and Karl. “He ain’t no three … If he’s a three, then the Queen is a pole vaulter. Cause there’s no way.”
Reilly’s book alleges all manner of cheating, from fudging scorecards to kicking golf balls back onto the fairway. In fact, Reilly claims, the caddies at one golf club witnessed Trump kick the ball so much that they came up with a nickname for him: “Pele.”
I think Donald, in his heart of hearts, believes that you’re gonna cheat him, too. So if it’s the same, if everybody’s cheating, he doesn’t see it as really cheating,” Reilly writes.
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