Donald Trump boasts about himself incessantly, talking in superlatives about his achievements, many of which cannot be substantiated and for which he refuses to reveal supporting information. We already know that he has refused to release his tax returns, something that every major party candidate has done for the last few decades and which would reveal, among other things, his annual income, the amount of tax he pays, and his charitable contributions.
But now we learn that he may be lying about something else too, and that is his golfing ability.
Trump has bragged about having a handicap of three. For years, this number was accepted with little public question, probably because nobody cared enough to investigate it. Forbes once reported his handicap as four, with the caveat that he has yet to produce a signed scorecard as proof. But mostly Trump’s word was that.
The Republican presidential nominee lists his handicap as 2.8 on the US Golf Association’s Golf Handicap and Information Network, making him an extraordinary golfer at any age – but truly phenomenal for someone who is 70. And it raises the question: how likely is this claim to be truthful? Is it yet another story of virility fabricated by a man who has a long history of distorting reality?
In a sport that prides itself on honesty, where a player’s signature their own scorecards is taken as certifying that the score is correct, cheating is not uncommon. I asked a friend of mine who is a Sunday golfer and he said that in the friendly games he plays, it is not uncommon for players to move the ball and do other things that shave their scores. One can well imagine that Trump has mastered all the tricks.
There are many tales of Trump bending the rules on the golf course. Last year, former Sports Illustrated managing editor Mark Mulvoy told the Washington Post that once playing with Trump in the 1990s he realized that Trump had placed a ball just feet from the pin that he had never hit. “Ahh, the guys I play with cheat all the time,” Mulvoy said Trump told him. “I have to cheat to keep up with them.”
The same story referenced an interview Alice Cooper did in 2012 in which the rock star – a regular golfer – answered a question about the worst golf cheat he had ever played with by saying: “I played with Donald Trump one time, that’s all I’m going to say.”
Why should we believe that he is telling the truth about his golf handicap when he lies about so many other things that are much more important?
The psychology of cheating at friendly games, where nothing is at stake other than bragging rights, is quite fascinating. Is someone who cheats over such trivial things more likely to cheat about major things? Or is there no connection?