Former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly has been busy this week promoting his new book Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, which, as you might guess, details all the ways in which President Trump cheats at his favorite pastime. Accounts of the president winning golf games through dishonest means isn’t shocking on its face given the president’s notoriously fragile ego and the fact that the once and future real estate developer has been accused by contractors of stiffing them on payments for their work and other sketchy business practices, but some of the anecdotes Reilly shares about Trump feel especially revealing.
One of the more ridiculous anecdotes from the book concerns Trump stealing a golf ball, and thus, a win, while playing against hedge fund manager Ted Virtue, or more specifically, Virtue’s middle school-aged son at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach in 2018.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Reilly relayed an anecdote in which Trump is said to have hit his ball into the water but ended up putting the kid’s ball after high-tailing it across the course in his cart so he could get to the green before anyone else.
“Virtue hits it on the green, his son hits it on the green, but when they get up there, because Trump is always way ahead in his own cart, the caddy is lining up Trump’s ball for a putt. Virtue’s kid says, ‘Mr. President, that’s my ball.’ The caddy says, ‘No, this is Mr. Trump’s ball. Your ball went in the water.’ And the kid, who’s 12 or 13 or whatever, goes, ‘Dad, that was a new ball. That’s my ball,” Reilly told Rolling Stone. “And Virtue’s like, ‘I’ll buy you another ball.’ Trump sinks the putt on that hole and goes on to win, and that’s how he’s the club champion.”
Sure, it sucks to lose, but watching Donald Trump hit a ball into a lake and then one from your teen son to win a low-stakes match—again, just for emphasis, versus a teenager—sounds like it was worth the dues.
Reilly hits on a more bizarre Trump story later while discussing the gaudy tackiness of Trump’s golf courses.
“To me, his courses are an extension of when I saw his apartment at Trump Tower, which is all baroque this and crystal that,” Reilly says. “A white piano. It was like it was decorated by Mike Tyson or something. It was just so over the top.”
Rolling Stone writer Ryan Bort then mentions an anecdote from Reilly’s book where Trump allegedly bragged about watching the World Trade Center burn on September 11 via “a golden telescope.”
“I’ll never forget that,” Reilly said. “He goes, ‘Solid gold.'”