According to people whose lives may well have depended upon it, the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il had an excellent golf game. One story told of Kim’s golf prowess crossed the demilitarized zone and become something of a minor meme: that Kim, while playing the first round of golf of his life at the age of 52, shot a 38-under-par 34 at the Pyongyang Golf Course. It’s false, obviously, but not just for the obvious reasons. The actual story, as Golf.com’s Josh Sens told it in 2016, was that Kim’s caddy didn’t really know how to score golf, and so filled out the supreme leader’s scorecard with numbers that corresponded not to how many strokes Kim took, but how many strokes he was over par—zero for an even par, one for a bogey, and so on. Even that score is almost certainly bullshit, too, Sens writes—the Pyongyang course is a professional grade 7,700 yards, Kim was a 5-foot-3 man in his early fifties playing a very difficult sport for the first time, and just as a matter of best practices it’s wise to concede a putt here and there to someone who cares about these particular appearances that much.
Anyway, Donald Trump is good at golf. We know this because he brings it up a lot, and sometimes asks other people to bring it up so that he can hear the stories about himself all over again. Here he is making the CEO of General Electric tell a story about the time that they were playing golf together and Trump got a hole-in-one, right after saying, “I’m the best golfer of all the rich people.”
You can tell it’s a great story because of how hard every single one of the barnacles in suits sitting around the table dissolve into laughter when it’s over, and from the appreciative way that Trump says the words “it’s a crazy, it’s a crazy” once the tale is told. That’s why everyone says “it’s a crazy, it’s a crazy” now, whenever someone gets done telling a really good story. Donald Trump started that and then it just took off, like never before, even though he never gets any credit for it.
Another way to tell that Donald Trump is a good golfer is that he has won 20 club championships, some of them overall men’s championships and some of them senior or super-senior championships and all of those at golf courses that Trump owns. The most recent of these, Golf.com reports, is a men’s championship from 2018, which Trump won at Trump International Golf Course. This is remarkable given that Trump is 72 years old—his last two championships at the course, in 2012 and 2013, were seniors titles—and played golf at one of his clubs a mere 76 times in 2018. It’s not out of the question that Trump could have won this title fair and square, as he is by wide acclaim considered to be the best golfer of all the rich people. Less-rich people that have played with Trump also say that he’s good. “Not real long in terms of hitting it a long distance,” in the words of Golf Digest reporter Jaime Diaz, who has played with Trump, “but he’s real straight and real consistent. So he’s always in play.”
But also it’s just absolutely fucking out of the question that Trump won the title fair and square. Physically, the man looks like some sort of hideous British dessert—some sort of meringue that’s been boiled for a day inside a pair of men’s underpants and somehow tastes exactly like baloney—and stands like he’s in the middle of a windstorm. A thin rivulet of beige liquid has been leaking from his ears since at least 2014. He is plainly in no condition to win any golf club’s golf championship—or even, as Golf.com’s Michael Bamberger reports, a co-championship, a distinction that didn’t make it onto the little plaque that Trump had screwed onto his locker at Trump International. And yet the plaque is there, and Trump is listed as the co-champion alongside a 58-year-old Trump International club member named Ted Virtue.
Virtue held that title outright, Bamberger writes, until “Trump ran into him at the club, according to multiple sources who recounted the story. Having some fun with him, Trump said something like, ‘The only reason you won is because I couldn’t play.’” Trump challenged Virtue to a nine-hole match-play playoff—that is, each hole scored independently and worth one point—for the title. “As in nearly all amateur golf rounds, no rules official was on hand. Golf’s tradition calls for players to police themselves and, if necessary, one another. Trump won. In victory a magnanimous Trump said to Virtue something like, ‘This isn’t fair—we’ll be co-champions.’”
And that’s the story of how Donald Trump won his 20th club championship. To a certain extent, the success or failure of every presidency depends upon working around the leader’s whims and weaknesses. The more whimsical and weak the leader, the more difficult it becomes to get anything done; the work of flattering and feeding what needs flattering and feeding subsumes everything else and the bulk of the leader’s need crowds everything else away from the light. That type of leader’s metastatic personal foibles can quickly become everyone’s problem and everyone’s business—they become actual national issues in their own right, as everything that the state is meant to do is constantly being suspended because there’s an urgent need to cajole or sweet-talk or threaten or bribe the car keys out of the hands of a man who is plainly in no shape to drive. Anyway I forget what I was driving at there, but congratulations to President Donald Trump on another big victory. Here is an inspirational quote from him about the game he loves:
“I feel golf should be an aspirational game, something people aspire to [play],” Trump told Fortune Magazine in 2015. “People should come to golf, golf shouldn’t come to them. Let golf be elitist. When I say ‘aspire,’ that’s a positive word. Let people work hard and aspire to someday be able to play golf.”