The great ones play through pain.
At 8:55 a.m. on Feb. 19, 2018, as Parkland, Fla., residents headed to a local church to mourn the senseless murder of 14-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Alaina Petty, 40 miles away, the president of the United States woke up early in the morning, slipped into a white polo shirt, a white Make America Great Again cap, piled in a golf cart and hit the links for four hours and 52 minutes.
That same weekend, as Trump luxuriated at Mar-a-Lago on our dime, professional golfer Bubba Watson collected $1,296,000 for his victory at the PGA’s Genesis Open. Since then, Watson has played in 44 events and earned an estimated $8.3 million on the PGA Tour. Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, has earned nearly $12 million playing in 48 golf events over the last two years. Tiger Woods has only played in 33 events and earned $8.5 million.
Since then, according to Trump Golf Count, which tracks the president’s golf outings, Trump played at least 71 times.
But $63 million in endorsements made Tiger the highest-paid golfer and the 11th highest-paid athlete in the world in 2019. Russell Wilson’s $89.5 million haul in salary and endorsements earned him a Just for Me relaxer, a turtleneck and the title of America’s highest-paid athlete, according to Forbes. Of course, none of these athletes take all that money home. They have to pay caddies, trainers, managers, agents and personnel. Those dollar amounts simply reflect what owners, sponsors, organizations and companies paid these athletes to play “the sports.”
According to the Government Accountability Office, during a one-month period in 2017, Americans paid $13 million for four trips to Trump properties for golf outings, including $60,000 for rooms and space at the Palm Beach resort. This includes thousands of dollars for lodging and feeding Secret Service agents paid directly to the resort owned by Trump. Using GAO data detailing the costs of Donald Trump’s travel, we can estimate that taxpayers pay about $600,000 per round of golf. The Washington Posts estimates that we pay $3.4 million for each presidential visit to the “Southern White House.”
Since 2016, federal government departments have spent about $130 million for Trump to hit the links. That doesn’t include another $13.8 million incurred in local security costs that the federal government reimbursed to the city of Palm Beach through spring 2019. If you extrapolate those costs to today’s date, the total local and federal costs for Trump’s athletic endeavors total $152 million or roughly $50.6 million per year for Trump to play golf. In the three years since Trump became president, no billionaire team owner, no sports organization, no company has paid a human being more to play golf.
Using Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes, Trump ties for 10th among America’s best-paid athletes and 17th in the world. Trump’s “salary” is the same as Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout’s, whose 12-year, $426.5 million deal was the richest contract in the history of team sports.
In eight years, Obama’s total travel costs, including family vacations, totaled $114 million. Most of that family travel money wasn’t spent on golf outings or paid to companies owned by Obama. Even if it did, Obama’s name would still not appear on the Forbes list. That $14.25 million per year would land Obama above Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive tackle Geno Atkins but below second-string Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller.
I think that the American people should at least get their money’s worth. If we’re going to pay the president to play golf, we should at least get to watch. And we should own a sizable investment in Mar-a-Lago by now. We should be able to rent it out for family reunions, cookouts and gender reveals. If Trump wants to play golf, it’s perfectly fine. But he should have to pay his own way or stay home. Isn’t that how this is supposed to work?
Oh, wait...here’s an idea:
Trump vs. Obama in a golf match.
Winner gets to be president again.
I’d pay for that.