Shared from the 6/8/2019 The Denver Post eEdition

“Commander in Cheat”

Reilly: If Trump cheats at golf, he cheats everywhere

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Donald Trump arrives at Trump International Golf Links in 2016 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Jeff J. Mitchell, Getty Images Europe

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IF YOU GO

What: Boulder native and nationally known sports writer Rick Reilly speaks and signs his new book, “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump”

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tattered Cover, 2526 E. Colfax Ave.

Tickets: Vouchers to attend are $5 and are good for $5 off the author’s featured book or any purchase the day of the event.

Info: tatteredcover.com (303-322-7727)

Etc.: Reilly will also be speaking at 5 p.m. Sunday at the Boulder Book Store, 1107 Pearl St., Boulder, boulderbookstore.net (303-447-2074)

While gathering material for “Who’s Your Caddy?,” his 2004 book about his adventures carrying clubs for “the Great, Near Great, and Reprobates of golf,” Boulder native, one-time Daily Camera sports writer and former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly joined the future president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, for a round.

Throughout the day, Trump continually confirmed his reputation as a legendary liar, as Reilly writes in his new book, “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump.”

Reilly took assiduous notes, observing that Trump granted himself four mulligans (a second chance on a shot he didn’t like), allowed himself a “gimme” chip (occasionally casual golfers allow a player to assume he’ll make a very short putt, but never a chip from off the green), wrote down a four when Reilly saw him take six strokes, and more.

Back at the clubhouse, “Trump didn’t just lie nonstop about himself that day. He lied nonstop about ME,” Reilly writes. When he asked the future president why he was continually exaggerating Reilly’s role at Sports Illustrated — president, publisher — the current occupant of the White House shrugged and explained, “Sounds better.”

“Sounding better is Trump’s m.o.,” Reilly writes. “It colors everything he says and does. The truth doesn’t break an egg with Trump. It’s all about how it sounds, how it looks, and the fact checkers can go run a 100-yard dash in a 50-yard gym.”

A decade later, when Trump was running for the presidency, he Tweeted, “I’ve won 18 club championships including this one.”

“That’s like an NFL quarterback telling you he’s won 18 Super Bowls,” Reilly writes. “It’s preposterous. It’s a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day float of a lie.”

Trump had confessed to Reilly during their round how he accomplished some of those alleged “championships” — by playing the first round at a club he’d just bought. Reilly decided it was time to rip the scab off the soon-to-be-president’s lack of character.

In “Commander in Cheat,” Reilly systematically debunks the club-championship whopper with facts — remember those? — and concludes, “Final score … Lies, 16, Incompletes 2, Confirms, 0.” Over the next 250 pages, he details countless incidents of Trump’s lying and cheating, exhaustively detailed through documentation and interviews with multiple witnesses.

“I don’t know anything about politics,” said Reilly, who will speak and sign his new book at Boulder Book Store on Sunday. “But as a golfer, don’t do this to the sport I love.”

“Commander in Cheat” argues that character matters, whether you’re the president or just a kid hauling golf clubs for rich guys and covering up their dishonesty to keep your job. And nowhere is character revealed more nakedly than on the golf course, Reilly argues.

“My thesis is if (Trump) is cheating at golf, he cheats everywhere,” he said in a phone interview. “Arnold Palmer always said, ‘I never do a business deal with anybody until I’ve played golf with them. If they are going to cheat at golf, they are going to cheat in business. In golf, you can’t hide who you are.’”

But the game can be a tempting target for a serial cheater or liar.

“It’s the easiest sport to cheat at, so it’s kind of a litmus test for the soul,” Reilly said. “If you’re 100 yards across the fairway I can’t tell what you are doing.”

Reilly said Trump even has his (motorized) carts “jerry-rigged” to go faster than anyone else’s, “so if he hits it in the lake, he can get up there and tell his caddy to throw a ball back in the fairway.”

So why do other people who presumably respect the game, from caddies to club pros, allow Trump to get away with it? Aware of his reputation for vengefulness, many don’t want to get on his bad side, Reilly said. Some supporters don’t defend Trump’s well-documented cheating, but say it has nothing to do with his presidency.

“This is what I know,” Reilly said. “Golf is like bicycle shorts: it reveals a lot about a man.”

Reilly even surmises that Trump’s animosity toward special investigator Robert Mueller, who investigated charges that his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election and committed obstruction of justice, may be golf-related. Mueller quit the Trump D.C. golf club in 2011, and sent a letter requesting a dues refund, as specified in the membership contract. He, like other members, never got a response.

“Whenever I talk to people who belong to Trump courses but hate Trump, they always say the same thing: ‘I’m just here to play golf. It’s got nothing to do with Trump. I’d never support him personally,’ ” Reilly writes. “Memo to them: When you forked over your $200,000, it went right in his pocket.”

In the end, Reilly believes Trump’s brazen dishonesty in golf, politics and life not only sheds light on his essential nature, but also lays bare its tragic roots:

“It’s all about filling up his continually leaking bucket of self-esteem,” Reilly said.

“The truth is, the person in golf Donald Trump cheats the most is himself,” he writes in the book’s final paragraph. “He’s cheating himself of the joy, the endless challenge, golf brings.”

See this article in the e-Edition Here