Regardless of your feelings on President Trump, you can’t deny that the man knows and loves his golf. He’s put his name on well over a dozen courses around the world, he’s hosted majors at his clubs, and he can pick up the phone and get Tiger Woods or Dustin Johnson in his foursome. Oh, and he’s apparently a good enough golfer that he can win tournaments he doesn’t even enter.
The latest Trump Golf Story — they’re like fish stories, except bigger, so much bigger, the biggest — comes to us courtesy of Golf.com’s esteemed Michael Bamberger, who reports that Trump’s locker at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. boasts a new plaque. This one reads “2018 Men’s Club Champion.” (This isn’t fake news. You can see a photo of the locker right here.)
Winning a club championship is a heck of a feat for anyone, especially a 72-year-old man with a demanding day job. (Fact check: During 2018, Donald Trump was serving as president of the United States.) But here’s the really wild part: Trump didn’t even play in the tournament.
So how did he end up with that plaque on his locker, a commemoration of his 20th club championship? (All of those club championships have come at clubs Trump owns, which definitely helps ensure the engraver spells his name correctly.) According to Bamberger, the original winner was a gentleman by the name of Ted Virtue, a CEO with memberships at Winged Foot and Trump International.
Virtue claims a handicap of 3.3, and he’s backed that up with 20 scores posted in 2018 and 2019 ranging from 73 to 83. Not PGA Tour-level play, but pretty dang solid for a 58-year-old. (Trump, for the record, claims a handicap of 2.8, and has only posted two scores since 2016.) Virtue, who was part of the team that helped make the Academy Award-winning “The Green Book,” won the club championship the usual way, by triumphing in multiple matches.
Somewhere along the line, Trump and Virtue actually crossed paths. And at that point, Trump, according to multiple sources, said something along the lines of “The only reason you won is because I couldn’t play.” Trump cited the obligations of being, you know, president of the United States as his reason for missing the club championship.
So then Trump proposed a deal that Virtue couldn’t refuse: a nine-hole playoff for the title of club champion. When your president wants you to play golf, and said president also owns the club, well, you play golf. (Bamberger notes that club officials are not permitted to discuss club matters, and neither Virtue nor Eric Trump, who runs the president’s golf course business, returned his inquiries regarding the unique knockout round.)
No rules officials or television cameras were on hand for this unconventional sudden-death playoff, but Trump nonetheless claimed victory. He then turned to Virtue, according to Bamberger’s sources, and said, effectively, “This isn’t fair — we’ll be co-champions.”
And that’s how it’s listed in the clubhouse’s championship wall, with Trump and Virtue as co-champions. Clearly there was some oversight in not adding the “co-” to Trump’s plaque on his locker. Trump has visited his Florida club 18 times in the last year, part of the 161 estimated golf trips he’s taken since taking office, so perhaps he’ll be able to have someone get that corrected the next time he’s in town.
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