There will be all kinds of issues, domestic and foreign, to weigh before casting your vote for President. Very serious stuff, setting the course of a nation.
And then there’s this: Could you vote for a candidate who cheats at golf?
Oscar De La Hoya detoured from promoting this weekend’s Amir Khan-Canelo Alvarez fight long enough to rat out Donald Trump. De La Hoya recounted playing with Trump at the mogul’s course in Los Angeles, watching him hit it into the weeds and water on a couple holes only to discover his ball magically appearing either in the middle of the fairway or on the green, tight to the hole.
His wasn’t the only accusation that Trump takes liberties with the rules of golf, just the most recent.
Rocker Alice Cooper has said it.
Sportswriter Rick Riley once said of Trump, “When it comes to cheating, he’s an 11 on a scale of one to 10.”
Another media figure, former Sports Illustrated publisher Mark Mulvoy, said that Trump once told him: “Ahh, the guys I play with cheat all the time. I have to cheat just to keep up with them.” (These anecdotes come from a 2015 Washington Post story dealing with Trump’s ethics on the links).
Trump’s response to every accuser is basically the same: I have too much respect for the game to cheat. I don’t know this person. I have never played golf with this person. And let me tell you, I am a terrific golfer, one of the best.
Do I think Trump cheats on the course? Of course. He owns at last count 18 of them, so he certainly feels entitled. "My course, my rules," trumps "play it where it lies." The occasional foot wedge, some creative accounting on the scorecard, the gimme from the clubhouse patio – these are just some of the perks of ownership.
A separate question is: What does cheating in golf reveal about the potential leader of the free world?
Does that hint of a character flaw that sullies the integrity of the office?
Or is it emblematic of a leader who will win at all costs, one who will game the system in any way necessary to obtain the best result?
There is a third option, too, I guess: Who cares? It’s only golf.
Trump reportedly is a fine golf partner. Charming. Funny. Tips well.
He’s also a decent player – Forbes magazine said he plays to a 4 handicap, although obtaining signed scorecard evidence was difficult (hard to imagine, since he puts his name on everything else).
Trump would be willing to play all comers in a round, winner take the presidency. That may make about as much sense as the current system. Only best to have a rules official on his bag at all times.