Images of Donald Trump on the golf course have me laughing a little. In both appearance and demeanor on and around the course, he resembles the Rodney Dangerfield character in the movie Caddyshack.
It’s all quite funny considering how much the Trumpster criticized President Barack Obama for spending time on the links. It’s an interesting comparison of composure and physique.
I grew up on a golf course. Know how to play the game. I’m probably a 13-15 handicap golfer but don’t care that much about golf to worry about it. So I’m nothing special, but not terrible either.
So I’ve been on golf courses that are posh and some that are awful. Played at Medinah a few times. I’ve also golfed on cheap course where thirteen-lined ground squirrels dominate the fairways. Golf balls drop down holes never to be seen again. So the full spectrum of golf is no mystery to me. Been in wealthy clubhouses where you can’t set your golf shoes down without an attendant scooping them up for a shine. Learned to carry money around to tip everyone that serves the club members.
It always made me uncomfortable to be placed in such a position. I can’t help identifying with the people in those positions. I’ve been a caddy. Walked the course carrying someone else’s bag. Worked clubhouses where arrogant members treat other people like dirt. It’s no fun. And frankly, it always seemed a bit demeaning.
Laugh it up
There have been many funny moments on the golf course, including day that I carefully stepped on a partner’s golf ball and saw it pop up and hit him in the forehead when he putted. That was one of the funniest moments of my life. Who could have predicted that one?
In fact, much of the joy in playing golf is the camaraderie of being out there with friends or associates yukking it up and making fun of each other. That’s what made the Rodney Dangerfield character in Caddyshack so familiar to so many. He was the perfect combination of the lowbrow golfer with the highbrow means to make the game fun.
As a longtime distance runner and cross country competitor, I also have a unique perspective on golf courses as an environment. Many of our high school and college meets were held on golf courses. I clearly recall running my guts out while passing squads of golfers on carts. They stared at us. It was worlds colliding. We were the curiosity, and they were the supposed mainstream. And granted, large bands of skinny runners cruising the golf course at high speed is a bit of a strange sight. No clubs. No bags. Just balls out.
On the whole, the world of golf does not seem a haven for fit or highly active types. I’m writing a book titled “Nature is My Country Club,” and my research turned up these interesting statistics.
“Since its inception, golf has evolved from its roots as of humble walks through country links to largely motorized tours of urban courses where people only get out of their carts to hit a shot. The website FitnessbyAndrew.com published this interesting set of facts: “In 1984, 45% of rounds were played with a motorized cart. By 2002, cart usage rose to 66% and in 2006 increased to 69%. In 2006, only 30% of rounds were walked. Today, the majority of golfers use a motorized golf cart. In fact, some areas and courses estimate cart usage is over 90%. According to administrative staff at facilities in Myrtle beach, walking rounds are non-existent. It is estimated 95% of rounds at specific facilities are with riding cart.”
Which perhaps explains by men like Donald Trump that play golf so often can still be so slovenly-looking, and fat. Even though he’s proclaimed himself President of the United States, when he’s out on the golf course he’s just another fat, sweaty-looking guy slugging errant shots out of the weeds. And by many reports, he also cheats. And he’s lied about his commitments. As quoted in the Irish Times: “I’m going to be working for you,” he told Virginians during the presidential campaign. “I’m not going to have time to play golf.”Trump thumbs his nose at such promises. He now plays golf because he can. And screw anyone that questions that right.
In truth there are very few people who actually dignify themselves by playing golf. The majority are just overweight slobs with dark little secrets and angry wishes thrashing around the course in hopes that some grain of self-esteem will emerge from the last round to justify playing again. That makes Donald Trump the Poster Child for Populist Dreams of wealth, position. But mostly, the Right to Play Golf. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s just another fat rich guy on the golf course escaping the demands of work and home life.
Criticism comes home to roost
Now, we must remember that Trump criticized Obama for his golf-playing. But Obama also played basketball during much of his first term. As a result, the man remained slim and fit despite the demands of his job. Even his sometime golf partner Bill Clinton, who happens to be a runner, have kept their weight down through middle age. It’s not easy. You have to work at it. Both were wonks about policy with an eye for detail. Both presided over economic recoveries on the heels of Republican excess. You can twist the facts around any way you want, but when it came to running the country on par with standards of excellence and competency, they both excelled.
Clinton had his flaws, for sure. His putter was a bit too active, you might say. And Obama played the game of politics by pulling out his yardage card for every shot he made. But that’s how the pros actually do it. Sergio Garcia didn’t win the 2017 Master’s tournament without a caddy to help him calculate the length of his shots. It’s no surprise that Obama used drones to hit his marks. They fit his calculating nature and cautious use of the military. He played the course of terrorism with both deadly accuracy and unfortunate foible at times.
Being President of the United States and keeping in shape require plenty of work and attention to detail. Even President George W. Bush was at least a jogger. You can’t stay fit or do the job of President just by walking around yelling slogans such as Make America Fit Again! Instead, you’ve got to raise your heart rate, sweat a little and push your butt back from the table to avoid now and then. It never pays to consume too many calories whether you’re at the Pineview Par Three Golf Course or the posh estates of Mar-A-Lago.
The point here is that there is a certain amount of character and relationship on display when it comes to how one engages in golf and other activities. Those who worship the wealthy idol (or idle) might dismiss such notions on grounds that being rich means is by itself a sign that you’re smart, gifted and beyond criticism for grift or any other question of character.
It’s a funny lesson in the movie Caddyshack that the kid named Danny won the day. His main hope was earning a chance for a scholarship to college. Yet he ultimately thumbed his nose at Judge Schmales, the richest member of the club who wanted Danny to throw the game in his favor. Danny even showed more class than the Chevy Chase character who choked at the end despite his seemingly suave demeanor.
As for the Rodney Dangerfield character, despite all his claims of joy and satisfaction, he seemed the saddest character of them all. Desperate for attention. Unwilling to take any criticism. Throwing money around like there was no tomorrow. And desperate for a win of some kind to satisfy his bloated ego. It all sounds too familiar in this day and age.