If you want to understand the loopy logic of Donald Trump’s campaign, study his golf courses

A bogey.
A bogey.
Image: Reuters/David Moir
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Revered English novelist P.G. Wodehouse once said that “To find out a man’s true character, play golf with him.” To assess the candidacy of Donald Trump– a rumored golf cheat and owner of 17 golf properties – we can paraphrase that adage: “To find out a presidential candidate’s character, look at his golf business.” It turns out that Trump’s golf empire is a great illustration of the troubles, inconsistencies and hypocrisies of his presidential campaign.

Politico reported on Monday (May 23) that Trump, who has repeatedly denounced climate change, calling it “bullshit” or a “hoax,” is applying for a permit to build a coastal protection works to stop sea erosion at his golf resort in County Clare, Ireland. The cause of the erosion, according to Trump? Rising sea levels and extreme weather caused by global warming.

Here are other examples of how Trump’s golf business underscores his double standard candidacy:

  • To appeal to his gun-toting constituency, Trump told the National Rifle Association that he is against “gun-free zones.” Some of his golf courses do not allow guns on the premises, ABC reported.
  • Although he can’t quite make up his mind on the topic, Trump repeatedly has said the wealthy would have to pay more taxes if he was elected president. The candidate himself has said that when he releases his tax returns, it will be apparent that he “fight[s] very hard to pay as little tax as possible.”According to ABC, Trump’s lawyers argued that one of his golf courses in New York was worth $9 million, and at one point only $1.35 million, well below the Trump campaign’s financial disclosure ($50 million) and the town’s estimate ($14.3 million). Local officials said that lowering the property’s value was a ploy to avoid higher taxes. Fortune reported that Trump and his subsidiaries followed the same pattern in at least six of his golf properties, using a common loophole in municipal law.
  • Trump has repeatedly said he will bring jobs back to American workers. In his own business, Trump likes employees from abroad: Since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015, he applied for and received 186 permissions to hire foreign guest workers at his resorts and golf courses, Buzzfeed reported. 
  • Trump has boasted that he made $102 million in charitable contributions in the past five years. According to The Washington Post, none of those donations came from Trump’s own money. Many were free rounds of golf donated by Trump resorts.

Then of course, there’s The Donald’s own game. While he says “very few people can beat me in golf,” others call him a cheat.