Update: Trump played golf on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Despite a spokesman saying the president “played a couple of holes” on Sunday, he apparently played a full round with professional golfer Rory McIlroy. The numbers below have been updated.
Trump was adamant that his predecessor, Barack Obama, spent too much time on vacation while president. He tweeted his objections 38 times from 2011 to 2014.
(Politico estimated that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips cost $3 million.)
He also expressed his feelings about taking a vacation.
So: Winter White House. Not: Vacation location.
That tweet about Obama and golf was no coincidence. On the campaign trail, Trump mostly hammered the frequency with which Obama played golf. According to a tally compiled by CBS News’s Mark Knoller, Obama played 333 rounds over his eight years, or about once every 8.8 days.
If Trump plays this weekend, it will be his third week in a row traveling to the club near Mar-a-Lago. His rate of play? Once every 9.7 days. Far better. (Update: After this weekend, it’s once every 7.8 days. Not better.)
The problem, of course, is that Obama didn’t spend a lot of time bashing George W. Bush’s golf-playing before he took office. Trump raised the subject repeatedly — often with already ironic results.
“You need somebody that can wheel and deal and get things done, and we go back to a system where we don’t need the executive orders,” he said on Jan. 24, 2016, in Iowa. “All Obama does now is sign executive orders. ‘We want this.’ He can’t get it — boom, executive order. And he’ll be out on a golf course in two, three, four, five years, and the courts will start getting these executive orders. . . . What he’s saying is: ‘Look, I don’t know if it works or not. Here’s an executive order. In five years, don’t worry — I’ll be playing golf. What the hell difference does it make?”
The first time Trump tweeted about a judge halting his travel-ban executive order also happened to be the first day he hit the links as president.
Obama’s golf habit came up over and over. A sampling, from Factbase:
“I do not want to play golf — I do not want to hold a golf club because I don’t want the dishonest media to portray me as someone who was going over to play golf in the middle of a campaign,” he said on June 28 about his visit to Scotland.
“His greatest, his greatest was when he wanted to play golf in Hawaii,” he said in Raleigh on July 5. “So he takes the 747 — and, by the way, he’s played more rounds just about than people who play professionally on the PGA Tour.”
“I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” he said on Aug. 8 in Virginia.
“We will cancel every illegal Obama executive order. Just boom-boom-boom,” he said on Nov. 7 in New Hampshire. “He goes out and plays golf so much that he doesn’t have time to convince Congress to go and — let’s do it the way it’s supposed to be done, right? I mean he’s played more golf than most people on the PGA Tour, this guy. What is it, over 300 rounds? Hey, look, it’s good. Golf is fine. But always play with leaders of countries and people that can help us! Don’t play with your friends all the time.”
At least this weekend he included a world leader, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. That was shortly before he and Abe were forced to deal with a missile test by North Korea. The pair held a brief news conference, during which Trump mostly praised our support for Abe’s country.
For what it’s worth, Trump didn’t always talk about golf through the lens of Obama on the campaign trail.
“My hands, look at these hands!” he said on March 5 in Kansas. “These hands hit a golf ball 285 yards! Look at these hands!”