Harry Flames—Staff Writer
The recent 2018 Master’s Golf tournament got a taste of the political world when American President Donald Trump forcefully inserted himself into the revered competition last week.
The President’s love of golf has been no secret throughout his varied career, but the hobby has been particularly emphasized and criticized during his time within the White House. His love of the sport was perhaps most evident, however, when on April 1 he signed an executive order allowing all present and future presidents to play in the golf tournament. The media initially perceived the action to be nothing more than a strange, Trumpian prank for April Fool’s Day but soon discovered, with the rest of the country, that the Order was legitimate when Air Force One landed in Augusta, Georgia, a few days later.
The stunt largely overshadowed Patrick Reed’s victory at the end of the tournament, but Trump competing with the likes of Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods caused the Masters to receive a monumental ratings spike compared to the last tournament, a fact the President was quick to point out on Twitter. Fox News transformed its entire network into a 24 hour coverage of the Augusta National Golf Club during Trump’s stay, with Sean Hannity acting as an unofficial commentator for the tournament.
The historical exploit was foreshadowed on Trump’s Twitter account a week earlier. The 3 a.m. tweet stated, “SAD! Fake News media can’t stop lying about how I play too much golf. Just jealous of my amazing skills with so little practice. I could beet all the FAKE news anchors easily in golf. Believe me!” The executive order to play in the Masters came a week later, after the tweet was thoroughly dissected and joked about by the media and talk shows.
Despite the warnings from Chief of Staff John Kelly about the questionable legality of the executive branch dictating over a private event, Trump played all four days of the tournament. As expected, Trump’s presence disrupted the usual quiet and focused atmosphere of the tournament. Many of the other players were shocked to find many of the greens ruined after Trump had played on them, as he exercised his habit of driving carts over the putting greens, a taboo practice within golf circles.
On one occasion, Trump shanked a swing and launched his ball off course into the rough. The tournament was delayed for 30 minutes as the secret service desperately tried to retrieve the lost ball. Though the ball was eventually declared lost, Trump reportedly denied it as he moved to the next hole yelling to reporters, “Anyone who tells you I didn’t find the ball is a dishonest person. It was not lost—that’s a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese!”
The crowds attending the tournament were larger and louder than in past years, as the President’s supporters and critics often clashing throughout the weekend. Hillary Clinton even made a surprise appearance to watch the unusual spectacle. She was first spotted by the crowd, wandering out of the woods surrounding one of the holes on the course. It is still unknown how she got there but she claimed to be taking one of her now infamous forest walks in the area when she heard of the President’s recent exploits.
The President returned to the White House the night the tournament ended April 8th. The next day in the White House News Briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed Trump had achieved the best golf score in the history of the Masters but had opted to pass the winning title to Patrick Reed anyway. The PGA has denied this statement as being inaccurate.