Sports journalist Rick Reilly will never forgive nor forget U.S. President Donald Trump for his golf scores. The author is alleging that the golf enthusiast has been cooking his golf books “like a mafia accountant.”
“You would rather cut off your arm if you're a tour player than be accused of cheating,” former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move (video above). “Cheating is the worst thing. And this guy cheats like a mafia accountant.”
A handicap is a measure of a golfer’s playing skill as compared to an expert amateur’s level. A lower rating means the player is doing well, while a higher rating means that the player is performing poorly.
Reilly, who detailed the allegations in his book “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump,” explained that Trump claims that his handicap is currently a 2.8 — while golf legends like Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam estimate it to be around 10.
Literally incredible handicap
Fox Sports golf analyst Brad Faxon previously said that during a 2017 round with Woods and Dustin Johnson, Trump had put down a score that didn’t account for two balls he had hit into the water on one hole.
Reilly said that Trump’s low handicap was because of selective reporting on the Golf Handicap and Information Network (GHIN) which is maintained by the U.S. Golf Association to calculate each player’s handicap.
“You can go to GHIN dot com and just [type in] Donald Trump Florida, and it says 2.8,” said Reilly. “But to get to 2.8, it's taken him eight years. So he's only picking up the very best rounds he's ever had … [and] we know he played 66 times last year… what a liar.”
‘He has to cheat to win, no matter what’
Reilly also said that the lack of oversight on the golf course helped Trump get away.
“This game was meant was all about integrity and honesty because it's too big to have [referees],” said Reilly. “We're the only sport that doesn't have [referees]. … The penalty on yourself.”
Reilly recounted an incident where hedge fund manager Ted Virtue and his 12-year old played a round with Trump. During the impromptu tournament arranged by the President, he had apparently hit the ball in the water. But by the time Virtue’s son played the next ball — which landed on the green — Trump’s caddy had already lined up the boy’s ball as his own.
“He makes the putt he wins the tournament and now decides he's the winner instead,” said Reilly.
That incident — one of many, according to Reilly — revealed “a lot about the guy. He has to cheat to win, no matter what. … [and] it's even worse than that. He's been known to kick guys balls into the bunker when they're not looking. So it's not that he wants to shoot well, he wants you to play worse.”
Reilly added: “It’s maddening as a golfer. It drives me crazy.”
‘The President was satisfied with his fourth shot’
Trump, who’s nickname on the golf course is “Pele” because of his penchant for kicking balls, isn’t the only world leader to brag about dubious handicaps.
The late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was also known to have suspiciously good scores. The dictator had apparently scored 38-under par 34 over 18 holes at the Pyongyang Golf Course on his very first go at the sport, and later going on to shoot 11 aces.
Bill Clinton was another offender. One reporters had noted that during his presidency, the former President was fond of taking multiple extra and uncounted shots — called “mulligans” — which the golf media counts as cheating.
“On a glorious spring day in May, Mr. Clinton appeared incapable of getting the kinks out of his swing on the first tee,” a New York Times report from 1999 detailed. “He took one mulligan. Then another. And then another. Each shot was spectacularly ugly, zig-zagging this way and that. Finally, the President was satisfied with his fourth shot, which managed to land in the fairway.”
A reporter who had witnessed the “flurry of mulligans,” had remarked that it was ''the highest-ever number of cheater's shots the First Duffer has taken before witnesses.'”
Reilly — who has played with Clinton — has now challenged Trump to a golf match on a course that isn’t owned by Trump to determine whether the President truly has a 2.8 handicap.
Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.