For the third day in a row, President Trump jumped into his armored limousine at the White House on Monday and made his way to Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. On Saturday, we assume he played golf when he was there, because he traveled to a golf club and the weather was nice. On Sunday, it’s hard to say, because the weather in the area was spotty. But despite similarly questionable weather on Monday, we can be pretty confident that he at least intends to play golf, because the White House — unusually — admitted it.
The White House usually tries its best to hide Trump’s golfing from the media. The reason for this is obvious: Before he was inaugurated, Trump repeatedly disparaged President Barack Obama’s golf habit. Trump pledged that he would be too busy to play much golf once he became president, if he could play any at all.
Then he became president. By our estimate,* he is likely to have played golf on 53 days of his 263 days in office — once every five days. (Obama played once every 8.8 days over his eight years in office.) Trump has done so every time at a golf club that his private business owns. The Secret Service has paid $137,000 to rent golf carts over Trump’s presidency.
When people first started to criticize Trump’s dual habits of visiting his own properties (he has done so on 90 days of his presidency, more than once every three days) and golf-playing, the White House tried to argue that his time on the links was an opportunity for him to meet with important people. Trump has played with the prime minister of Japan and with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), which probably fit into that category. Dozens of other times, though, his partners are unknown. In some cases, they’re known — and include professional golfers or other people with whom the president may not usually have an urgent need to meet.
That Trump was with Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) on Monday allowed the White House to reinforce this (very weak) claim: It’s not just a game of golf, it’s an important meeting to discuss important things.
It’s worth noting that Trump’s calendar was otherwise clear for the day. Monday is a federal holiday, Columbus Day, but presidents often will schedule events or meetings anyway. By our count, it’s the seventh time Trump has had a clear calendar on a weekday; he has them often on the weekend. The last time he had an open weekend was on Labor Day.
The trip to Sterling is Trump’s 18th as president, making it his most common Trump-branded destination. (In second place is his golf club in Palm Beach, Fla.) On 7 percent of the days that he has been president, he has gone to the club.
For meetings, no doubt.
* Our assessment of whether Trump played golf is based on one of two things. Either social media evidence emerging that he played or a combination of a morning with a clear schedule, suitable weather and Trump’s presence at a location with a course.