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Trump embraces ‘best golfer’ title despite reports he cheats so much that caddies nicknamed him ‘Pele’

Former president ‘kicked balls into the fairway’ like Brazilian football icon, book claimed

Gino Spocchia
Friday 30 September 2022 16:15 BST
Related video: Protesters project US coronavirus death toll onto Trump’s golf course

Donald Trump has presented himself as the “greatest” golfer among all United States presidents in history despite previous claims he cheated by kicked golf balls so blatantly he was nicknamed Pele, a reference to the Brazilian football icon.

In a Truth Social post, Mr Trump shared a link to a DC Enquirer article about a Golf Digest ranking, titled “Donald Trump Is Ranked Number 1 Presidential Golfer in History by a Landslide”.

The golfing magazine put the single term president top of a list of US presidents and above US President Joe Biden, who was given a handicap ranking of 6.7 compared to Mr Trump’s 2.8.

Many golfers and sports writers immediately mocked the Golf Digest ranking for being “phonier than Velveeta [cheese] on spam,” as sports writer Rick Reilly put it.

“Biden was once a 6 but not for 20 years. Obama is about a 9 now. Taft was horrible and more like a 30. Why lie Golf Digest,” Mr Riley, the author of Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, argued.

Mr Reilly accused Mr Trump of inflating his scores or outright lying when it comes to his performance on the golf course in his 2019 book, which documented the many hours spent by the former president playing golf.

“He throws it, boots it, and moves it. He lies about his lies. He fudges and foozles and fluffs,” wrote Mr Reilly, according to an excerpt from “At Winged Foot, where Trump is a member, the caddies got so used to seeing him kick his ball back onto the fairway they came up with a nickname for him: ‘Pele.’

“To say ‘Donald Trump cheats’ is like saying ‘Michael Phelps swims.’...He cheats because that’s how he plays golf, that’s how he learned it, that’s how he needs it, and whether you’re his pharmacist or Tiger Woods, if you’re playing golf with him, he’s going to cheat.”

While president, Mr Trump was often condemned for taking to the golf course for as much as “one in very five days”, or on 285 days of his presidency, according to figures from Trump Golf Count. Often with with famous faces including Tiger Woods and the late former prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.

While his real golfing capabilities remain a mystery, former world No. 1 golfer and apparent friend of Mr Trump Tom Watson has previously claimed that the position of best presidential golfer was between George W Bush and Mr Trump, whose “strength is his length”, as CNBC reported on 2017.

Despite spending 20 per cent of his time playing golf – mainly at his own Trump National courses – Mr Trump was still keen on selling the idea he was good at golf however and according to a book by two other New York Times journalists asked Republican senator Lindsey Graham to tell the authors that Mr Trump was good at golf.

“If you don’t believe it, go play with him,” Mr Graham allegedly responded when asked if Mr Trump could play.

The Independent has approached Mr Trump’s office for comment.

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