If there is one thing that President Trump loves more than self-aggrandizement, it’s golf. Well, almost as much anyway.
The president spends every available free weekend at one of the multiple golf courses that he owns, at considerable expense to the American taxpayer while pocketing the profit for himself.
He uses his golf excursions to reward his favored Republican legislators with valuable facetime, to hobnob with celebrities and sports figures, and to fill his “executive time” with something other than TV watching and tweeting about it.
Knowing Trump’s intimate relationship with the sport, Politico just published a lengthy article looking at one of the most sacred bonds a golfer can have, his connection with his caddy. Written by Rick Reilly, a sportswriter who has worked with Sports Illustrated and ESPN, the article is an excerpt from his new book Commander-in-Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump.
In his Politico piece, Reilly relates the insights into the president that he found from interviewing the people who have served as his caddy, a job that provides a close up look at Trump in the element in which he feels most comfortable.
Trump’s social media director, Dan Scavino, famously began his career as 16‑year-old summer caddy for Trump in 1990 at Briar Hall Golf and Country Club, the property that is now the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester New York, so it is a job that can lead to boundless opportunity.
Trump’s current regular outdoor caddy is an ex-Marine in his 60s who prefers to be identified by just his first initials A.J. and who works out of the Trump National Golf Club Washington in Northern Virginia. In between helping to choose and retrieving the right golf club to take a particular shot, A.J. gets to witness Trump in all his duffer’s glory.
As one would expect of someone who needs the president’s trust to continue to hold his position, A.J. is fiercely loyal to Trump and says that he has even gotten into fights with other caddies on the course over negative comments they’ve made about his boss.
“He was running his mouth, sir,” says A.J., who calls everybody “sir” or “ma’am,” of one of his colleagues. “Yellin’ about Mr. Trump. He was sayin’ to somebody, ‘Don’t tell me how I have to feel about him! I hate that motherf—–!’”
The ex-marine responded by approaching the other caddy from behind and putting him “in a full military chokehold” while shouting:
“Now, you listen to me, f—–! You’re not gonna come to Mr. Trump’s course and eat Mr. Trump’s food and then use the word ‘hate’ about my president. I won’t have it, you got me?”
Perhaps the most satisfying anecdote that A.J. relates about his time working as the president’s caddy is this tale guaranteed to inspire a least a bit of schadenfreude among Trump opponents.
“One time, after a bad drive, Trump slammed his driver back in his bag, as guys will do, and wasn’t really watching what he was doing, and the driver ricocheted back and hit Trump in the head. ‘A.J.?’ Trump asked, pissed. ‘Did you just hit me in the head with my own driver?’,” Reilly writes.
“’Sir, Mr. Trump, why would I do that?’ A.J. said. ‘You’re my president!’”
“There are more than a few members at Trump Washington who’d love to hit Trump in the head. A valet told me, ‘We had a bunch of them quit when he won.’ Most of the anti-Trump crowd stayed, but they resist in their own small ways.”
“Every time one member sees A.J., he says, ‘Is this the day, A.J.? Is this the day?'”
“’Is this the day for what, sir?’”
“’Is this the day you take him out for me?’”
While the thought of Trump hitting himself in the head with his own golf club does provide a wonderful mental image to savor, the fulfillment of the golf resort member’s wish seems unlikely given A.J.’s loyalty to Trump and the large Secret Service contingent that accompanies him as he plays.
A.J.’s loyalty to the president has come with a personal cost, however. He revealed that since Trump was elected, he has lost business from one group of golfers in particular — a group that may prove to be a weather vane for Trump’s chances of reelection in 2020.
“’I used to caddy for a lot of the ladies here, sir,’ he says, meaning the female members of the club. ‘But once Mr. Trump won the election, that all ended. Now I hardly do it at all, sir. I guess they don’t like him. I’m the president’s caddy and they’re not gonna ask for me, sir. So that’s it,’” A.J. explained.
For more details of the president’s golf cheating habits and A.J.’s stories about a range of Trump’s golf partners including Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rand Paul (R-KY), you can read Politico’s entire excerpt from Reilly’s book here.
Meanwhile, Trump will continue to golf at every available opportunity as much of the country heartily wishes that he has a good stroke.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Rick Reilly at Politico.