US President Donald Trump and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe enjoy playing golf in Florida on February 11, 2017.
Trump in 2016: 'I don't have time' for golf
01:21 - Source: CNN

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Trump has made 16 visits to golf courses since taking office

Obama played 333 rounds of golf during his presidency

CNN  — 

Let’s start here: Presidents – all of them – are entitled to some leisure time.

For the last two presidents, their preferred leisure time has been spent primarily playing golf. Which, again, is totally fine! Being president, in case you might not be able to guess, is a very stressful job. You need ways to blow off steam.

Given that, the fact that President Donald Trump has made 16 visits to his own golf courses since being sworn in shouldn’t be a huge deal. He hasn’t played golf on every one of these visits – we don’t know exactly what he’s doing, due the fact that the White House releases very few details about his trips – but he’s been photographed actually playing golf on a number of those occasions, including Sunday.

The problem for Trump is – and stop me if you’ve heard this one before – the fact that he was very, very outspoken about the number of rounds of golf that President Barack Obama played during his time in the White House.

Obama, as many Democrats are quick to note, didn’t play his first round of golf until later this month in 2009 – at almost the 100-day mark of his presidency. (According to Mark Knoller, CBS’s Mr. Know Everything when it comes to the presidency, Obama wound up playing 333 rounds of golf during his eight years as president.)

And then there is the fact that Trump promised on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t be golfing if he got elected president because he would be too busy cutting great deals on behalf of the American people. “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump said in August 2016 on the campaign.

If he ever did play golf, Trump promised, he wouldn’t just play with his buddies like Obama did, but rather use the golf course as a sort of outdoor board room – playing with foreign leaders, members of Congress and the like to convince them about something or other related to the running of the country.

“I mean he’s played more golf than most people on the PGA Tour, this guy,” Trump said in his final campaign appearance on November 7 in New Hampshire. “What is it, over 300 rounds? Hey, look, it’s good. Golf is fine. But always play with leaders of countries and people that can help us! Don’t play with your friends all the time.”

It’s hard to tell whether Trump has stuck to that pledge. We know he played golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a visit to Mar-a-Lago in February. But his aides keep a lid on virtually all information about what Trump does when he visits his various golf courses; reporters are forced to scour social media looking for hints of who he played with (or if he played at all).

The point of this all is that Trump has made the bed he is currently lying in. Had he said nothing about his predecessor’s leisure habits, there’d be no stories – or, at least, a whole lot fewer stories – about his own love of the links. But since Trump attacked Obama relentlessly for his golf outings, it’s difficult to turn around and say that it mattered for Obama but not for him.
Golf is just golf. But, it’s a reminder that Trump doesn’t really believe that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. He sees no apparent hypocrisy in railing against Obama’s golf-playing while playing even more golf himself.

Welcome to the wonderful world of contradictions that is President Trump.