Apr 3, 2019

New book "Commander in Cheat" goes long on Trump's golf game

Kendall Baker, author of Sports

Hachette Books

From throwing his opponent's balls into bunkers to exaggerating his 2.8-stroke handicap, Donald Trump's alleged penchant for cheating on the golf course is the subject of retired sportswriter Rick Reilly's new book, "Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump."

Why it matters: "It's a way to look at Trump in an apolitical way," Reilly told me by phone yesterday. "It's not about his presidency, but rather a way to look at his soul."

  • "Arnold Palmer always used to say, 'I'll never do a business deal until I play golf with a guy because you can't hide who you are out there on the course," Reilly added.

Details: One of the book's stories focuses on the time Trump played golf with the old ESPN "Monday Night Football" crew. It's him and Jon Gruden versus Mike Tirico and Ron Jaworski.

  • At one point, Tirico hit "the 3-wood of his life" toward the green only to find his ball in a sand trap 50 feet left of the pin. Later on, Trump's caddy told Tirico that his ball had been 10 feet from the hole. "Trump threw it into the bunker. I watched him do it," said the caddy.
  • At Winged Foot Golf Club in New York, the only non-Trump property where the president is a member, he kicks his ball back onto the fairway so often that the caddies call him "Pele."
  • "Trump is actually pretty good at golf," Reilly told me. "Tiger said he's about a 10 handicap. That's pretty good. In fact, that's great for a 72-year-old guy. He wouldn't be bad as an honest golfer." (He isn't, though.)

The bottom line: There's something refreshing about a Trump-related story devoid of politics. Instead of immediately retreating to our corners, we're able to, hopefully, examine this at face value and decide for ourselves what to make of it.

  • "Who cares, plenty of people cheat at golf" is one possible conclusion. "Golf says a lot about a man" is another.

P.S. ... For all of our D.C. readers, Rick is doing a book signing at Solid State Books near Union Station at 7pm ET tonight.

Go deeper

Biden formally secures Democratic presidential nomination

Joe Biden speaks at Delaware State University's student cente on June 5. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden became the formal Democratic presidential nominee on Friday evening, per AP.

The big picture: Biden has been the presumptive frontrunner to take on President Trump since Sen. Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign in early April.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 6,724.516 — Total deaths: 394,018 — Total recoveries — 2,996,832Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,894,753 — Total deaths: 109,042 — Total recoveries: 491,706 — Total tested: 19,231,444Map.
  3. Public health: WHCA president says White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop" — Jailing practices contribute to spread.
  4. Sports: How coronavirus could reshuffle the sports calendar.
  5. Jobs: Better-than-expected jobs report boosts stock market.
  6. Media: The Athletic lays off 8% of staff, implements company-wide pay cut.

Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.