In Defense of Golf

Much ado about golf, once again.

"Once again?" You say. Oh yes, I do. If you're a typical political news reader, you either saw a whole lot about golf in the past 8 years (and then nothing) or pretty much nothing about golf and then a whole lot just now.

So let's look at now: Trump golfs, probably more than many other presidents have golfed. People are mad that he golfs. Did you know it's costing taxpayer dollars? Shouldn't he be busy fighting ISIS

If you rewind a bit, you actually have so much fury about the amount of golf Obama played that there is a fairly popular website dedicated to it. Obama actually spent a staggering (?) 3% of his entire tenure playing golf. That probably cost the American taxpayer quite the pretty penny, too. And ISIS was around for much of his own outings.

What slackers, am I right? We'd better spend energy keeping track of which president golfed more frequently, so we can stock up on some good political points that we'll use later to accomplish nothing at all. 

In Defense of Golf

There are two very good reasons to, in general, not get so bent out of shape about a president golfing.

  1. It's a visible, physical way they take breaks from the stress of being, you know, the President of the United States. I'm sure other presidents, who golfed less, also took breaks, but those breaks are harder to account due to not being at a golf course.
  2. They're tremendous, beautiful ways to have meetings. You don't even believe. They're the best meetings.

But seriously. 

Here's Trump doing some international diplomacy. "Shouldn't they be in a conference room?" They were. But it's also important to have real relationships with fellow heads of state. Dinner's fine; why not golf?

Here's Obama doing some internal diplomacy with arch-rival John Boehner. Again, relationships are important--particularly in a political environment where both are cornered into taking jabs at each other in public all the time. 

Now there's a bit of a war over what portion of golf trips are meetings and what are recreation. Trump's done himself no favors by spending so much time criticizing Obama for golfing, but it's no big shock--and being a hypocrite has nothing to do with whether the actual golfing itself is a problem.

Do we know how many golf trips were official business and how many were recreational? No, and we probably won't. But it probably doesn't matter.

Don't Be a Dupe

I'm sure there are times when, for each president, someone could point out that such-and-such event occurred just before golfing, and therefore the president probably should not have been golfing. If you want to dig something up and carry it around like a security blanket, that's fine, but not helpful.

Frankly, worrying about how many rounds of golf per month each president plays is silly. If you've found yourself getting worked up about it, it's a great sign that you're being duped by a naturally-hypocritical party propaganda machine or media outlet. It's a good opportunity to do a gut check and see where else you're being distracted worrying over stuff that's entirely innocuous. That is--how many non-issues are being used to keep you emotionally engaged and upset?

And, after that gut check, let these two guys have their golf. We've all got better things to worry about. 


Erik Fogg

We do politics, but we don't do the thinking for you.