Eric Trump: "We own our courses free and clear"

Mark Moore and Chris Perez report for the New York Post on Eric Trump's response to golf journalist James Dodson's story about the way Trump Golf finances projects.

From the Post report:

“We own our courses free and clear,” Eric said, insisting that the report was “categorically untrue” and “complete garbage.”

“We have zero ties to Russian investors,” he added.

Author James Dodson Claims Trump Family Acknowledged That Russians Financed Recent Golf Projects

The Guardian's Martin Pengally reports on the comments of Arnold Palmer biographer and longtime golf writer James Dodson, who told WBUR-FM during an interview that both President Donald Trump and son Eric explained their golf course financing source.

The conversation, which Dodson recounted as he considers himself someone who enjoyed his time playing golf with Donald Trump, took place three years ago.

“Trump was strutting up and down, talking to his new members about how they were part of the greatest club in North Carolina,” Dodson said. “And when I first met him, I asked him … you know, this is the journalist in me … I said, ‘What are you using to pay for these courses?’ And he just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100m.”

Eric Trump, the president’s younger son who is now executive vice-president of the Trump Organization, was also present.

Dodson continued: "So when I got in the cart with Eric, as we were setting off [to play], I said, ‘Eric, who’s funding? I know no banks – because of the recession, the great recession – have touched a golf course. You know, no one’s funding any kind of golf construction. It’s dead in the water the last four or five years.’

"And this is what he said. He said, ‘Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.’ I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Oh, yeah. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.'

Dodson also told a story about the late Arnold Palmer and his view of Donald Trump.

Make sure to check out the backstory of how Dodson got to hang out with the Trumps from the original interview with Bill Littlefield.

"I knew Trump was very interested in golf," Dodson says. "I knew he was buying up golf courses. His M.O. was to find a financially distressed property, buy it, keep it in bankruptcy, do a half-a-million-dollar renovation, fire the entire staff and hire a third back."

So James Dodson, who grew up a Republican but currently describes his political stance as "radical centrist," knew that. And maybe he thought that’s all there was to know about Donald Trump. But that was before they’d met. Which, as I’ve suggested, wasn’t Dodson’s idea.

PGA CEO Hopes President Trump Gets More Public Courses Funded

Kevin Casey sums up Ahiza Garcia's CNN Money interview with PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua who makes the case that President Donald Trump, who has said he sees golf as aspirational, will go all FDR on us and include WPA-style golf construction projects as part of future infrastructure rebuilding efforts.

“That’s a powerful story because those golf courses are open to everybody, they’re very affordable, and now we’re bringing golf’s best and one of golf’s major championships to those public venues year after year,” Bevacqua said. “We think that’s a powerful signal for the game.”

Friedman: "So a Hindu, a Muslim and a Jew are playing golf together in Dubai"

Thomas Friedman is in Dubai and files a New York Times dispatch on his round of golf with "Indian mystic, poet and yogi Jaggi Vasudev, who goes by his reverential name, Sadhguru." (Thanks Ellen and TZ for sending in.)

While Friedman pledges he's not writing a Trump column on this day, and did mention he had to give more strokes to the mystic mid-round, it does end with a less than subtle message for our golf-loving president.

There was this from Sadhguru on golf...

Sadhguru got addicted to golf while visiting followers in America. With about a 15 handicap now, he can hit a drive 220 yards.

As a yogi, it was not surprising that he had probed the deeper meaning of the game: “The simplicity of it makes everyone attempt it, but the subtlety of it makes almost everybody get frustrated with it,” he once observed in an interview with Isha’s magazine. Golf was also just like life (and yoga), he added: People mess up at both when their “interior is not settled.”

President Trump Eyeing Bedminster For His Summer Retreats

The New York Daily News' Andrew Edelman says all signs point to President Donald Trump spending a lot of weekend time this summer at Trump National Bedminster, home of July's 2017 U.S. Women's Open and the 2022 PGA Championship.

While The White House is understandably not saying for security reasons, Edelman says Bedminster is bracing for increased traffic and security issues.

This time, he’s more likely to fly into Newark Airport or the smaller airports in Morristown or Teterboro, and then ride in a motorcade from there, which would still jam up the country roads in Bedminster.

Well, and not to mention the massive summer crowds flocking to Golf House!

Trump Voters Believe Obama Played More Golf In First Months

I’m non-partisan when it comes to U.S. Presidents playing golf and using the golf course to make deals, take in fresh air, or, most importantly, suffer ego slap downs from the Golf Gods.

Still, it’s fascinating to see that President Donald Trump’s many early forays into golf are seen as as less prevalent than Barack Obama’s.

Allan Smith reports for Business Insider that 53% of Trump voters said Obama outpaced the current president with trips to the links.

A Thursday poll from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows that 53% of respondents who said they voted for Trump in November said Obama had outpaced Trump on trips to the golf course during each president's first three months in office. Just 20% of Trump voters said Trump played more golf, while 27% said they were unsure.

And there was this...

Among all respondents, 48% said Trump played more golf, while 28% said Obama did. Nearly one in four respondents said they were unsure.

Greg Norman Resurfaces To Defend Rory's Round With Trump, Talk More About Himself

Thanks to reader LC for this BBC interview with Greg Norman explaining why Rory McIlroy was right to accept President Donald Trump's invitation to play golf. Apparently this was a placeholder discussion as we await Norman's Q3 plans to revolutionize the game.

More mesmerizing is Norman recounting the story he's told many times about not wanting to golf with Bill Clinton, only to have President George Bush set him straight. Norman admits to that round changing his perspective of Clinton and even becoming friends with the former president.

Why that experience didn't stop Norman from suggesting more than once that President Barack Obama was playing a "hefty" amount of golf, is a mystery. Or worse, hinting Obama's supposedly flippant approach to keeping score was the sign of character issues. Or the Shark weighing in on any of this!

Here is Shark at Fox and Friends sharing his enthusiasm for President Trump's efforts to get the economy going. The Shark's excited about rollbacks in regulations he sees helping the golf course design industry, but still no announcement on his efforts to disrupt the game...until Q3 when they "go to market" with whatever the mystery product is.

 

Spicer On Trump's Golf: "He is ‘entitled to a bit of privacy'"

President Donald Trump's criticism of former president Barack Obama's Sunday golf rounds has been well-documented. So as the (now) sitting president hangs out at Trump International with regularity, his passion for the game has become of great interest to those who documented Obama's golf habit.

Press secretary Sean Spicer says the president is entitled to his privacy and therefore should not be accountable for his affinity to tee it up on the record, reports Politico's Kelsey Sutton.

“It’s the same reason he can have lunch or dinner with somebody,” Spicer told Yahoo White House correspondent Hunter Walker when asked why Trump had not provided more information about the details of the meetings conducted on the golf course. “The president is entitled to a bit of privacy at this point, which we’ve always agreed to. We bring the protective pool, but the president is entitled to a bit of privacy as well.”

Spicer's comments:

Group Taking U.S. Women's Open Protest To...LPGA Stop!?

I'm not sure if this is a failure of USGA branding or just lame ignorance, but it's disappointing to see UltraViolet planning to protest at this Saturday's LPGA Tour stop in Phoenix.

Golf.com's Marika Washchyshyn reports on protest plans including a banner-carrying plane urging the LPGA Tour to "dump sexist Trump."

Unfortunately, the U.S. Women's Open at Trump Bedminster is hosted and operated by the USGA.

UltraViolet members will also be stationed at the gates to the grounds handing out golf balls and golf ball-patterned beach balls with the message, "LPGA: Dump Trump."

"The LPGA should not be rewarding Trump's bigoted brand and normalize his platform and policies that degrade women and divide our country," Shaunna Thomas, a co-founder of UltraViolet, said in a press release. "The USGA and LPGA need to send a clear signal to young golfers, including women, people of color, and people with disabilities that it stands against Trump's brand of hate, and for an inclusive strong future by moving the upcoming U.S. Women's Open from Trump National Golf Course."

This is a shame on many levels, with the most obvious being that protestors are targeting an event and players that did not select the venue. Nor does their showing up at the most significant championship in women's golf signal anything other than a desire to win a national championship.

Trumped! R&A Welcomes Muirfield Back Years Before The Club Admits A Woman Member

Let's savor the comedic component of Muirfield joining the new century. After all, they re-voted to finally change their membership policies, reports Martin Dempster.

That the R&A's Martin Slumbers welcomed their rivals back into The Open rota the moment a policy was changed and well before candidates from the other gender were even considered for membership, speaks to one thing and one thing only: the R&A is happily postponing a return to Trump Turnberry.

Remember, Turnberry last hosted The Open in 2009 and has since undergone a fantastic renovation incorporating former Chief Inspector Architect Peter Dawson's design suggestions. In theory, the spectacular resort should be in line for the next likely open date in 2022.

Muirfield last hosted in 2013 and while a wonderful place for The Open, a 2022 return would be a bit faster than normal for the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Especially in light of their resistance to progress and their long standing rivalry with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. To see these two clubs in such a loving embrace, well, it moves me on this Tuesday morning.

Of course, the real comedy comes from knowing it'll be years before we know if Muirfield even admitted a woman. From Alistair Tait's Golfweek.com story:

There is no timetable for women to join the club. In an official statement the club said: “The current waiting list for membership at Muirfield suggests that new candidates for membership, women and men, can expect to wait two to three years, or longer, to become a member of the club.”

The immediacy of the R&A's embrace of their old rivals can very easily be interpreted as an opportunity to postpone a return to Turnberry for another year.

Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed.

“If it was Barack Obama, I would have played. If it was Hillary Clinton, I would have played.”

Based on various social media posts and stories, Rory McIlroy's acceptance of a last-minute invitation to play golf with president Donald Trump has not been universally well received. Even though McIlroy merely answered a late Saturday call for a Sunday game, he has been questioned for accepting. I do not understand the outcry.

Pro golfers have not had a great recent history on this front--think Azinger and Pavin insisting they were not offended by going to the Clinton White House. With this topic in mind--one that won't go away as President Trump's regular golfing is highlighted--Karen Crouse of the New York Times anonymously polled pros about playing a round with the president. Fifty of 56 polled said they would accept an invite from President Trump.

Ernie Els, who teed up with Trump recently, gave the answer you'd hope to hear:

“If it was Barack Obama, I would have played. If it was Hillary Clinton, I would have played.”

And because he's on such a diplomacy roll, Pat Perez took an opposite approach.

Perez said he would play with Trump “in a heartbeat,” but would have turned down an invitation from Mrs. Clinton if she had won. (It should be noted that she is not known to golf.)

Ultimately all of this golf talk--which has become prime late night fodder--is pretty minor unless golf triggers global conflict of some kind. That seems unlikely.

However, I'd argue today's banter between President Trump and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, while understandable to golfers given the story, reinforces way too many stereotypes:

 

 

The "Caddyshack" President

Elizabeth Williamson takes President Trump to task for turning the Mar-a-Lago ballroom into the Situation Room so that a response to North Korea's missile test could be sorted out.

As members shared photos of the man charged with carrying the nuclear codes on social media, the President openly discussed a proper response with Japan's prime minister. For this, Williamson invokes the Al Czervik metaphor.

Though President Trump never asked a bartender what time he was due back in Boy's Town or hit on Judge Smails' wife...

One would think leadership of the free world would have scratched Mr. Trump’s itch for publicity. But this is the man who called reporters using a fake name to generate stories about himself; who introduced a member of one of his clubs to a Golf Digest reporter as “the richest guy in Germany,” instead of by name; who looks pained when having to share the podium with anyone, from Sarah Palin to the prime minister of Canada. This is rule by Al Czervik, Rodney Dangerfield’s character in “Caddyshack”: a reckless, clownish boor surrounded by sycophants, determined to blow up all convention. But this is real life, and every time Mr. Trump strikes a pose, the rest of the world holds its breath.

Easy there, Czervik is no boor! Ok, maybe a tad...