Golfer-in-chief: President Trump hits the links with Rory McIlroy despite saying he'd only golf with heads of state

The president used to lambaste Obama for golfing too much, but doesn't apply that standard to himself

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published February 20, 2017 11:48PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

President Donald Trump used to criticize President Barack Obama for playing too much golf, but doesn't seem to think it's a problem when he spends a Sunday playing 18 holes of golf with a pro athlete.

But Irish golfer Rory McIlroy told No Laying Up that he rode in a golf court with President Trump through all 18 holes at the Trump International golf course.

"He probably shot around 80," McIlroy remarked. "He’s a decent player for a guy in his 70’s!”

McIlroy said that he had decided to avoid playing golf until next week's WGC-Mexico Championship due to a stress fracture in his ribs. After he received a call on Saturday night asking to join the president, however, he decided that he could not decline such an offer.

International Sports Management's Nick Mullen and Trump friend Rich Levine joined McIlroy for the day on the links.

Mike Memoli of the Los Angeles Times quickly spotted a discrepancy between McIlroy's story and the official White House account.

The White House responded with a statement claiming that "as stated yesterday, the president played golf. He intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer. He also had a full day of meetings, calls and interviews for the new NSA, which he is continuing today before returning to Washington, D.C. Tonight."

Trump's ever-changing views on golf now allow for him to play with golf pros and other famous people. That's a bit different from what he said last wee, in response to criticism of him playing golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"Well, I always said about President Obama, it's great to play golf, but play golf with heads of countries and people like yourself when you're looking for votes," Trump said. "Don't play with your friends that you play with every week. Does that make sense?"


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Golf Rory Mcillroy