I just finished reading Commander in Cheat; How Golf Explains Trump, by long time writer for Sports Illustrated and ESPN, Rick Reilly.
I am not a golfer, but I played a few rounds with friends in my younger days, and over the years I’ve enjoyed watching the pros on TV, enough to know a few things about the game:
1) The basic rules are so simple that even I can understand them.
2) Regular golf is somewhat more difficult than the miniature version.
3) There are unwritten rules of etiquette, ethics, and fair play.
4) A mulligan is a muffed shot that you do-over, a repeated shot from the same position such that you don’t count the bad hit. Mulligans are not allowed in professional play, but between friends they are acceptable if mutually agreed.
5) It’s not easy to cheat in professional play – too many cameras, but it is very easy to cheat in amateur play because your playing partners don’t watch your every shot (nor should they have to).
There is science in golf. There is friendly competition in amateur play. It’s not a cutthroat, win at all cost game. There is striving for improvement and satisfaction over small victories. In team play there is camaraderie in victory or defeat. I like to watch professional tournaments on TV. I like the beauty and variety of the courses. I admire the skill and dedication of those who are always trying to improve their game. I love to see a shot well played.
Rick Reilly chronicles many instances over the years where Donald Trump has cheated on his playing partners. Particularly egregious examples include 1) driving his golf cart to the green (and even onto the green!) before his partner arrives and kicking his partner’s away from the hole, while moving his ball closer, and 2) not revealing mulligans to his playing partners.
Does he care if his friends know he cheats? According to Reilly, it appears that he does not. His behavior is normal for him, so he thinks nothing of it. It’s not even wrong.
The sad thing is, his playing partners know he cheats, and they say “Oh, that’s just Donald.” He cheats and lies so often that his unethical behavior is “normal” (for him).
Are we becoming inured to a new, lowly standard? I for one refuse to accept it. This is not the standard I was taught by my parents, not the behavior I taught my children.
How can Trump retain forty percent support among American voters? I don’t get it. Have we lost the values we have held dear for the last two centuries, or do his supporters believe achievement of his policies outweigh his personal deficiencies? They can’t actually like this uncivil malignancy, can they?
It is my fervent hope that the nightmare will end on 20 January 2021.
Bob Moores retired from Black & Decker/DeWalt in 1999 after 36 years. He was the Director of Cordless Product Development at the time. He holds a mechanical engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University.