(Or how to piss off the Irish to the point of national condemnation)
Golf is life, as any golfer can tell you. Whoever or wherever you are playing, there is only one person on that course — you. It is the ultimate zen game, whether you show up, properly read the course, take the time and draw on the experience you need, and make the best shot you can in that moment. For 18 holes. One shot, the best you have in you, after another. Or not.
So let’s put together everything we know about Donald Trump and golf, shall we?
First off, he cheats. Who says so? Well, lots and lot and lots and lots of folks, including the former managing editor of Sports Illustrated, Mark Mulvoy, for one. And Rick Reilly, the sportswriter who caddied for Trump for his 2004 book “Who’s Your Caddy?” “When it comes to cheating, [Trump’s] an 11 on a scale of one to 10,” Reilly said.
Cheating on the course is one thing. “But it’s funny — last week or so, I actually got a bill from Trump National Golf Club,” he added. “And I haven’t been there in four or five years, so I had my assistant call. They said it was for membership dues. And I said, ‘I’m not a member,’ and they said, ‘Yeah, you are — you have a member number.’ Apparently, he’d made me a member of one of his golf clubs, and I didn’t even know it!”
Asked who the better golfer was, Jackson said with a smile, “Oh, I am, for sure. I don’t cheat.”
If you don’t believe Jackson (and who doesn’t believe him?), Olympic gold medal boxer Oscar de la Hoya, who won ten world titles in six different weight classes, played a round with Trump, who horned in on their party. It didn’t go so well, either. As de la Hoya later said, “I’m not [voting] for someone who cheats in golf.” When de la Hoya challenged Trump on the cheating, he said, “Ahh, the guys I play with cheat all the time,” he recalls Trump replying. “I have to cheat just to keep up with them.”
There’s a reason multi-million dollar deals are made on the golf course. After playing 18 holes, you know a great deal about someone. More, possibly, than they know about themselves.
Second, he cheats at building golf courses. The Scots have plenty to say about Trump’s two golf courses, his inflation of promised job numbers, and his battle to stop the building of a clean wind farm so he can play the big shot at playing golf in their little country. This link leads you to a fascinating article in The Atlantic Monthly for the gory details.
Suffice it to say the 6-7,000 jobs promised yielded 150, and while telling the Scots he was losing millions on the venture, even as he claims on U.S. presidential disclosure forms that the course has been highly profitable.
But I find his experience with the Irish more interesting because he seems to have this thing about building walls, and has managed to alienate Ireland to the point of their Parliament actually debating whether to ban him from the Emerald Isle permanently. What on earth did he do to them?
Oh, where to begin?
In order to combat the erosion of the world renown Doonbeg golf course on the Atlantic in County Clare, which has some of the best surfing in Europe, Trump started building, well, you guessed it, a 200,000 ton huge 1.7 mile wall to hold back the sea. Did he ask first? Oh, please. Because the coastline is the natural habitat of Vertigo angustior (the narrow-mouthed whorl snail), an endangered species, Clare County Council slapped him with a planning enforcement order, directing Trump to desist from any further work.
The Trump Organization submitted a permit to build a sea wall, which cites rising sea levels from climate change as a threat. Not just any wall will do — one plan called for a limestone barricade 20 meters wide, what Friends of the Irish Environment’s Tony Lowes described to CNBC as a “monster sea wall” in March 2016.
“If the predictions of an increase in sea level rise as a result of global warming prove correct, however, it is likely that there will be a corresponding increase in coastal erosion rates not just in Doughmore Bay but around much of the coastline of Ireland,” the application notes. “In our view, it could reasonably be expected that the rate of sea level rise might become twice of that presently occurring.”
As Vanity Fair wrote, “It seems that the New York billionaire—who has in the past dubbed global warming “a total hoax”—believes in climate change when it suits his bottom line.”
In April, Ireland’s planning authority, An Bord Pleanála, denied Trump permission to build his wall. He threatened to pull all future investment out of the area and appealed. According to local news sources I asked about the status of said appeal, it is “pending,” meaning they’ll get around to it. Someday. Really, honest they will. No, really.
When Trump announced he would visit County Clare in June, he would have received a reception much different than when a harpist, singers and leading politicians including Finance Minister Michael Noonan greeted him on arrival in his private jet in 2014, rolling out a red carpet to welcome him after his announcement that he planned to acquire the world renown Doonbeg golf course for $15 million, and of course change its name. Um.
Two years later, Irish leader Enda Kenny recently called Trump’s comments on immigrants “racist and dangerous” and no official Irish government planned to greet him. Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, a Labour senator and former junior minister for culture and equality in the previous Irish government told The Sunday Times Irish edition that “it should be made quite clear he’s not welcome in Ireland.”
“Donald Trump has advocated policies that, were he elected, would make his country a serious threat to international peace and security,” Ó Ríordáin said. “That concerns us all and we are entitled to make it known. Citizen Trump holds no elected office in the United States. To extend diplomatic courtesies would be not only unnecessary but inappropriate.”
In the face of massive demonstrations by the Irish, Trump cancelled his planned visit.
Nearly 100,000 people signed a petition to prevent his wall, including the Irish surfing community, a group not known for their political organizing skills. Irish big-wave legend, Fergal Smith, is backing the campaign.
“It’s so important that we stand up for nature and not get bullied by business. We must respect nature and have to learn to work with it, not just impose what some humans want.
“We are at a time in history where we can no longer watch money be more important than environment.”
His hate speech against Muslims is also very unpopular. Two petitions are circulating and Parliament has discussed banning Trump from entering Ireland “for any reason.”
How did he do this in two years? By planning jobs that didn’t materialize, by insisting that all the people who had live there for generations be moved out of his sight, by threatening the beautiful beach and coastline (and fabulous surf) with his ridiculous wall, by his hate speak against Muslims and other immigrants, by, well, playing golf by Donald’s rules. In Ireland, people still matter, to each other and to themselves. To him, they are simply obstacles. It didn’t play well down at the pub.
Featured image via 3ballsblog.com