Donald Trump and golf

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Donald Trump

Donald Trump's signature

Donald Trump is closely associated with the sport of golf.[1] As a real estate developer,[2] Trump began acquiring and constructing golf courses in 1999. By the time of his election as United States President in 2016, he owned 17 golf courses worldwide through his holding company, the Trump Organization.[1][2] Courses owned by Trump have been selected to host various PGA and LPGA events, including the upcoming 2022 PGA Championship.[3]

Following his election, Trump broke precedent with recent presidents and chose not to divest from his business holdings, including his golf courses. Although not illegal, this led to criticism from ethics lawyers and journalists for potential conflicts of interest. At least three lawsuits (D.C. and Maryland v. Trump, Blumenthal v. Trump and CREW v. Trump) have been filed claiming that foreign payments at Trump golf courses and hotels violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.


Trump, according to Jack Nicklaus, "loves the game of golf more than he loves money". According to Golf Digest, his handicap is as low as 2.8.[1] Trump began playing golf during his college years at the University of Pennsylvania.[2] In the introduction to his 2005 book The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received, Trump wrote, "for me and millions of people—men, women, young and old around the world—golf is more than a game. It is a passion."[4]

In 1999, Trump opened his first golf course: the Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach in Florida. Land for the US$45 million course was acquired through a lawsuit against Palm Beach County, Florida, after Trump's purchase of the Mar-a-Lago resort.[5] By 2007, Trump owned 4 courses around the US.[5] Following the financial crisis of 2007–2008, Trump began purchasing existing golf courses and re-designing them.[3]

Golf courses owned by Trump hosted the LPGA Tour finale from 2001 to 2008, as well as the 2009 US Junior Amateur and US Junior Girls Championships.[6] In 2014, the Professional Golfers' Association of America announced a multi-year partnership with the Trump Organization. The PGA of America selected Trump golf courses to host the 2017 Senior PGA Championship and the 2022 PGA Championship.[7]

Donald Trump and Mark Wahlberg in 2006

In June 2015, Trump announced his candidacy in the 2016 presidential election with a controversial speech which led to companies such as Macy's and NBC cutting ties with the businessman.[8] While speaking on illegal immigration, Trump claimed that Mexico is "sending people that have lots of problems... they're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people," drawing criticism from immigration and Latino advocacy groups.[8] The LPGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour, and United States Golf Association issued a joint statement, saying that while the organizations "do not usually comment on presidential politics, Mr. Trump's comments are inconsistent with our strong commitment to an inclusive and welcoming environment in the game of golf."[9] The PGA of America also decided to relocate the 2015 PGA Grand Slam of Golf—an exhibition match which had been scheduled to take place at Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles.[10] Other upcoming events at Trump courses were not affected.[10] In 2018, PGA Tour Latinoamérica held its Shell Tour Championship at Trump National Doral Miami's Golden Palm course after plans were announced to demolish the Melreese Country Club in Miami, which had held the event, for a football stadium.[11]

Golf courses owned[edit]

As of December 2016, Trump owned 17 golf courses in the United States and abroad.[1][2][12] Over nearly two decades (as he reported in his 2000–2018 tax filings), these golf courses had combined losses of $315.6 million.[13]

United States[edit]

Outside of the U.S.[edit]

Other golf courses[edit]

The Trump Organization also operates a public golf course built and owned by New York City[12][18] under a 20-year contract awarded in 2013 by the administration of then Mayor Bloomberg.[18][19] The course, which opened in 2015, is called Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, New York. Under the agreement, the city paid the course's utility and water bills while collecting no income for the first four years. In the first year of operation, ending in March 2016, the company had $8 million in gross receipts, and the city paid $1 million in water and sewage bills.[18] In the second year of operation, gross receipts dropped 9.5%.[20] For the operating year that ended March 2019, the Trump Organization reported a loss of $122,000; it now faces contractual fees of at least $300,000 per operating year from the city.[21]

Trump previously licensed his name to the Trump International Golf Club in Puerto Rico, which served as host of the PGA Tour's Puerto Rico Open. The course filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015. According to Trump Organization executive vice president Eric Trump, the organization "merely licensed our name for a fee and [had] nothing to do with the ownership, development or entity."[22]

Coats of arms[edit]

Trump has used a number of logos in the style of coats of arms for his businesses.

The coat of arms granted to Davies in 1939 bears the motto "Integritas".

Joseph E. Davies, third husband of Marjorie Merriweather Post and a former US ambassador of Welsh origins, was granted a coat of arms by British heraldic authorities in 1939. After Trump purchased Mar-a-Lago, the Florida estate built by Merriweather Post, in 1985, the Trump Organization started using Davies's coat of arms at Trump golf courses and estates across the country.[23] It was also registered with the US patent and trademark office.[24]

In 2008, Trump attempted to establish the American logo at his new Trump International Golf Links in Balmedie, Scotland, but was warned by the Lord Lyon King of Arms, the highest authority for Scottish heraldry, that an act of the Scottish Parliament from 1672 disallows people using unregistered arms. In January 2012, shortly after the inauguration of the golf course, Trump unveiled the new coat of arms[25] that had been granted to "The Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd" by the Lord Lyon in 2011:[26]

The coat of arms granted to "The Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd" in 2011 bears the battle cry: "Nunquam Concedere".

Party per chevron: Azure two Mullets Argent; Vert a double headed Eagle displayed of the second, beaked, taloned and langued Gules, holding in its talons two Globes of the second; overall three chevronels Or.[27]


A demi Lion rampant Gules, armed and langued Azure, holding in the paws a Pennon Or flowing to the sinister.

Battle cry

"Numquam concedere" (Latin for "Never Give Up").

From 2014, Trump used the same logo for the Trump International Golf Links, Ireland, the golf resort built from his acquisition of Doonbeg Golf Club.[28][29]


Following his election in 2016, Trump announced that he would not divest his business holdings, as other recent presidents had. Instead, Trump kept his ownership stake in the Trump Organization and appointed his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump to manage the business.[30] In an unusual rebuke from the Office of Government Ethics, director Walter Shaub called Trump's actions "wholly inadequate" and "meaningless from a conflict of interest perspective."[31] In an interview with The New York Times, Trump explained: "As far as the, you know, potential conflict of interests, though, I mean I know that from the standpoint, the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest."[32]

Trump and Shinzō Abe

Just days after his inauguration, a lawsuit was filed in federal court seeking to block the president from receiving payments from foreign government entities at his businesses. The lawsuit alleged that these payments constitute a violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution.[33] In February 2017, the president invited Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe to play at the Trump International Golf Club in Florida and stay at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. Legal and ethical concerns were raised by organizations such as the Sunlight Foundation over foreign payments the president may receive from the visit. Trump has vowed to donate any such payments to the Treasury Department, although the specifics of this arrangement remain unclear.[34] In June 2017, the attorney generals of Maryland and the District of Columbia filed a separate lawsuit, claiming the president was "flagrantly violating" the Emoluments Clause.[35]

A 2016 investigation by USA Today found that lobbyists and corporate executives had been purchasing memberships at Trump golf courses to gain favor or contact with the president. Membership fees at Trump courses can exceed US$100,000, leading to ethical concerns over a sitting president accepting money from people lobbying the government.[36]

While campaigning to be president, Trump declared in August 2016: "I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to play golf".[37] After becoming president, the amount of time he spent golfing generated controversy. Despite frequently criticizing his predecessor Barack Obama as having played golf too much as president, Trump golfed 11 times during his first eight weeks in office, when Obama did not golf at all in his first eight weeks, although Golf Digest concluded that Obama played 306 rounds of golf over his two terms, which the magazine describes as "...a fairly remarkable amount of golf while in office.".[38][39]

According to CNN, Trump visited Trump-owned golf courses 92 times between becoming president in January 2017 and January 3, 2018, although the White House does not disclose when the president actually plays golf during a visit to a golf course.[40] And the White House has on some occasions denied that Trump played golf during his visits even after photos published on social media showed him playing golf.[37] In November 2018, The Washington Post found that the average number of days between golf rounds was around 5 days for Trump, and around 12–13 days for Obama.[41]

Journalists and ethics experts have alleged that these frequent visits are a means of boosting publicity at the courses to sell more memberships.[42][43][44] White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president's golfing, saying that his time on the course was spent "developing deeper and better relationships with members of Congress in which those relationships have helped push forward the president's agenda." But CNN reported in January 2018 that Trump was known to have played golf with members of Congress only seven times at a Trump-owned golf course.[40]

Vice president Mike Pence stayed at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland in 2019 while meeting with Irish officials in Dublin. Pence was originally going to end his trip in Doonbeg, where he has familial ties, but Trump suggested that he stay at the Trump property instead, which required daily flights of a more than one hour each way.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Stanley, Ben (November 23, 2016). "Triple Bogey Diplomacy: How Australia and New Zealand Might Use Golf in the Age of Trump". Vice. Archived from the original on November 24, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Barton, John (October 13, 2014). "Donald Trump: I'm Huge!". Golf Digest. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  3. ^ a b DiMeglio, Steve (March 3, 2015). "Donald Trump brings new life to world of golf". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  4. ^ Trump, Donald J. (2005). Trump: The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received. Crown/Archetype. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-307-23854-2.
  5. ^ a b "Donald Trump: King of Clubs". Golf Magazine. May 3, 2014. Archived from the original on April 18, 2019. Retrieved February 21, 2007.
  6. ^ Passov, Joe (May 3, 2014). "Donald Trump lands 2022 PGA Championship for Trump Bedminster after years of trying to secure a men's major". Golf Magazine. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  7. ^ "PGA, Trump announce major partnership" (Press release). Palm Beach Gardens, Florida: Professional Golfers' Association of America. May 1, 2014. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Miller, Jake (July 2, 2015). "Is Donald Trump's presidential campaign bad for his business?". CBS News. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  9. ^ Beall, Joel (July 1, 2015). "Should golf evaluate its relationship with Donald Trump?". Golf Digest. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  10. ^ a b Prunty, Brendan (July 7, 2015). "P.G.A. Moves Event From Donald Trump Golf Course". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  11. ^ Wilson, David (October 19, 2018). "PGA Tour Latinoamérica is bringing its championship to Trump's Doral course. Yes, really". The Miami Herald.
  12. ^ a b Garcia, Ahiza (December 29, 2016). "Trump's 17 golf courses teed up: Everything you need to know". CNNMoney. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  13. ^ Buettner, Russ; Craig, Susanne; McIntire, Mike (September 27, 2020). "Trump's Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 29, 2020.
  14. ^ "Trump National Golf Club Charlotte". Greg Norman Golf Course Design. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  15. ^ "Donald Trump buys Charlotte-area course The Point Lake". Golf Channel. March 30, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  16. ^ J, William (September 18, 2008). "Trump adds Shadow Isle in Colts Neck to his club". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  17. ^ Benischek, Mike (November 9, 2016). "Archive: Donald Trump breathes new life into Dutchess golf course". The Poughkeepsie Journal. Retrieved September 1, 2019.
  18. ^ a b c Harwell, Drew (August 25, 2016). "Taxpayers built this New York golf course. Trump reaps the rewards". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  19. ^ Kranish, Michael (January 31, 2019). "How the relationship between Trump and Bloomberg went into a tailspin". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  20. ^ Hu, Winnie; Palmer, Emily (June 2, 2017). "Trump Golf Course Struggles in Bronx, Where Many Can't Afford to Play". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  21. ^ Greene, Leonard (July 29, 2019). "Bronx bogey: Trump's city golf course loses money". Daily News. New York. Retrieved August 31, 2019.
  22. ^ Allen, Karma (July 13, 2015). "Trump golf club in Puerto Rico files for bankruptcy". CNBC. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  23. ^ Hakim, Danny (May 28, 2017). "The Coat of Arms Said 'Integrity'. Now It Says 'Trump'". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  24. ^ "Trademark of Trump crest". Justia trademarks. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  25. ^ Guest (January 17, 2012). "Donald Trump awarded Scottish coat of arms after four-year battle". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  26. ^ Court of the Lord Lyon, @LyonCourt (November 14, 2016). "Trump International Golf Club Scotland Ltd was granted arms in 2011, replacing an assumed design they had previously used". Twitter. Retrieved February 14, 2018.[non-primary source needed]
  27. ^ Court of the Lord Lyon, @LyonCourt (January 21, 2017). "We granted these arms to Trump International Golf Course Scotland Ltd in 2012. Here is the colour version: ..." Twitter. Retrieved February 15, 2017.[non-primary source needed]
  28. ^ "Trump confirms Doonbeg buy – rebranded "Trump International Golf Links, Ireland"". Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  29. ^ "About the Course – Trump International Golf Club 2016 – Doonbeg". Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  30. ^ Schouten, Fredreka (January 11, 2017). "Top government ethics official denounces Trump's business plans". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  31. ^ Rein, Lisa (January 11, 2017). "Federal ethics chief blasts Trump's plan to break from businesses, calling it 'meaningless'". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  32. ^ "Donald Trump's New York Times Interview: Full Transcript". The New York Times. November 23, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  33. ^ Lipton, Eric; Liptak, Adam (January 22, 2017). "Foreign Payments to Trump Firms Violate Constitution, Suit Will Claim". The New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  34. ^ Siemaszko, Corky (February 9, 2017). "Japanese PM's Golf Trip To Trump Resort Hits Ethical Sand Trap". NBC News. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  35. ^ Davis, Aaron C.; Tumulty, Karen (June 12, 2017). "D.C. and Maryland AGs: Trump 'flagrantly violating' emoluments clause". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  36. ^ Heath, Brad; Schouten, Fredreka; Reilly, Steve; Penzenstadler, Nick; Madhani, Aamer (September 8, 2017). "Trump gets millions from golf members. CEOs and lobbyists get access to president". USA Today. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  37. ^ a b Superville, Darlene (January 20, 2018). "He said-he said: 10 times that Trump has contradicted Trump". Associated Press. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  38. ^ Beall, Joel (March 20, 2017). "President Trump appears to still really like golf, makes 11th trip to course in eight weeks in office". Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  39. ^ Weinman, Sam (January 19, 2017). "We've crunched the numbers, and it's official: President Obama played A LOT of golf while in office". Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  40. ^ a b Cillizza, Chris (January 3, 2018). "Donald Trump's huge golf hypocrisy". CNN. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  41. ^ Bump, Philip. "Trump played so little golf last month that he tied Obama". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  42. ^ Kumar, Anita (July 7, 2017). "Trump personally pockets club membership fees, breaking with industry norms". The Miami Herald. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  43. ^ Goodkind, Nicole (January 20, 2018). "In his first year as president, Trump spent one third of his time visiting his own properties". Newsweek. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  44. ^ Brown, Taylor Kate (January 18, 2018). "What happened to worries about Trump's business?". BBC News. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  45. ^ Smith, Allan (September 3, 2019). "Trump made 'suggestion' Pence stay at president's Irish golf club, VP's chief of staff says". NBC News. Retrieved September 3, 2019.

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