President Trump criticized former president Barack Obama for golfing too often. Now the White House is defending his own frequent outings. (Thomas Johnson/The Washington Post)

In mid-August 2011, then-non-politician Donald Trump levied a critique of President Barack Obama.

This was one of dozens of tweets criticizing Obama for playing golf. (Here’s another classic.) It was one of a handful that also dinged Obama for taking a vacation.

On the campaign trail, Trump was adamant: He would rarely play golf — “I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” he once said — and he certainly wasn’t going to take a lot of vacation. (“There’s just so much to be done,” he told “60 Minutes,” “so I don’t think we’ll be very big on vacations.”)

On Friday, Trump will head to his golf course in Bedminster, N.J., for a 17-day vacation. That’s nearly twice as long as the vacation Obama took in August during his first year in office, when he went to Martha’s Vineyard.

In 2010, Factcheck.org’s D’Angelo Gore figured that the Vineyard trip was Obama’s second that month, including a weekend trip to Arizona and Colorado during which Obama and his family visited the Grand Canyon. Obama did some work while he was there, but he made time for recreation, too, including fly-fishing. By Gore’s count, those were the second and third vacations of Obama’s presidency, counting a four-day trip to the family’s home in Chicago for Valentine’s Day.


President Trump returns from Camp David, Md., on June 18, 2017. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

If trips like that count — brief getaways to a personal property to recharge — then Trump has taken a lot of vacation. Before this month, Trump had made 11 such trips to his properties in Palm Beach and New Jersey. On occasion, he would wrap in some work, as Obama did when he was out West. Often, though, he didn’t. (He also spent one weekend in June at Camp David, Md.)

By our count, by the end of August, Trump will have spent all or part of 53 days in office at leisure, compared with 15 days for Obama through August 2009. What’s more, Trump will have played at least 33 rounds of golf, nearly double Obama’s 17 rounds — and that’s even before Trump gets to his vacation spot, an actual golf course.


There’s certainly subjectivity to this. Perhaps you don’t view Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago as vacations. Perhaps you don’t count partial days. Perhaps you have another metric you would like to use. Fair enough.

For a presidential candidate who pledged to take little vacation and play next to no golf, though, the apples-to-apples comparison above is striking.

Especially given Trump’s habit of laying down markers that he himself is likely to surpass.