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Trump heads to golf course after his staff insists he has a busy day lined up

The US President assured his 43.2m Twitter followers he would be “having meetings and working the phones from the Winter White House in Florida.

world Updated: Nov 23, 2017 14:10 IST
Paul Owen
Paul Owen
The Guardian, New York
Donald Trump,Trump golf,Trump plays golf
President Donald Trump reacts as he walks over to participate in presenting the Presidents Cup to the United States team at the Jersey City Golf Club in Jersey City.(AP File Photo)

Donald Trump appears to have headed straight to the golf course on the first day of his Thanksgiving trip to Mar-a-Lago in Florida – despite his staff insisting only an hour and a half earlier that he had “a full schedule of meetings and phone calls” all day.

The President flew to Florida for the holiday on Tuesday night after taking part in a traditional turkey-pardoning ceremony at the White House, and was up bright and early on Wednesday morning to resume his feud with LaVar Ball, the father of a basketball player arrested in China, and his separate row with NFL players who kneel to protest against police violence during the national anthem.

Those disagreeable errands out of the way, the President assured his 43.2m Twitter followers he would be “having meetings and working the phones from the Winter White House in Florida (Mar-a-Lago)”.

A White House press secretary, however, was less on-message, telling the press travelling with the President that she expected a “low-key day” on Wednesday, according to the “pool report” shared by journalists.

Within minutes, a correction had arrived to dispel any possible misunderstandings about Trump’s work rate and stamina.

“While the White House communications staff expects the press pool to have a ‘low-key day’,” it read, “the president will NOT have a low-key day and has a full schedule of meetings and phone calls”.

Just over an hour later, the Trump motorcade set off from Mar-a-Lago, arriving at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach at 9.26am.

The motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Thayer (REUTERS)

The press were not invited in, having been safely stowed away “at a public library across the street”. From that vantage point the media were unable to spot Trump himself.

But it seems likely the president was enjoying a round of golf.

Before taking office, Trump frequently criticised Barack Obama for his golfing habit, tweeting three years ago: “Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the US, President Obama spent the day playing golf. Worse than Carter.”

But according to analysis by Politifact, Trump’s time on the green has far outstripped that of his predecessor. The fact-checking website estimates that Obama played 24 times from his inauguration to 13 November 2009, while Trump has chalked up 35 outings.

Data specialist Sophie Germain, creator of trumpgolfcount.com counts a total of 73 visits to golf clubs, but is in line with Politifact in her tally of confirmed rounds. Sometimes the weather intervenes, but there is always lunch.

Many of these rounds have been at his own golf clubs, which the president has promoted in other ways. Speaking to the South Korean national assembly on his recent trip to Seoul he noted: “Korean golfers are some of the best on Earth. In fact – and you know what I’m going to say – the Women’s US Open was held this year at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and it just happened to be won by a great Korean golfer, Sung-hyun Park.”

“Congratulations,” he added.

(Published in arrangement with The Guardian)

First Published: Nov 23, 2017 13:51 IST