In normal times, it would be nothing special if the most successful player in American golf ever endorsed a President of the Republic for another term. But when Jack Nicklaus took to Twitter and Instagram to vote for Donald Trump, the thousands of accompanying comments made a quick and furious sketch of the divide between right and left.
The Golden Bear turned 80 in January and represents a sporting icon for millions of Americans who represents a time that is easier to understand. There he is constantly sun-kissed, mop-haired and slightly reserved when he acknowledges the timeless applause of the galleries of the prosperous 20th century: an uncomplicated hero.
The reactions to Nicklaus’ approval were predictably emotional: ecstatic in support, broken-hearted vows, signed keepsakes for sale, often derogatory convictions and defenses. And in exactly one case, amusing: “Disappointing! I loved you in The Shining. “
It is inevitable that the heated debate over the most polarizing political figure in living memory will spill over to America’s greens and fairways. The character of Trump the Golfer has rumbled along as a sidebar comic strip since the beginning of his campaign for the White House when he habitually questioned the number of days Barack Obama had spent on the golf course.
Four summers ago, when he unleashed the storm of support that blinded all expectations, Trump speculated that if elected president he would be too busy for the game. “Who would want to leave the White House,” he asked in disbelief. Golf News Network is just one source of the number of days Trump spent on the golf course: 293 rounds from taking office in January 2017 through the end of September.
Only one of the many books on Trump over the past four years was about his form as a golfer. Rick Reilly’s Commander In Cheat is hardly the subtlest of titles, and was written after the former Sports Illustrated columnist, who has a long relationship with Trump, was motivated to retire to write the book because of the boast of the Angered President over his golfing success.
“I kept seeing on my Twitter feed: I’m a champion. You should vote for me because I’ve won 18 club championships, ”Reilly told Donald McRae in a Guardian interview. “Whoa! That’s a lie because you already told me how you did it. Whenever you open a new course, you play alone and declare yourself the club champion. I think that’s a shitty lie. “
The book parallels Trump’s ethics on the golf course and the patterns that horrified and plagued so many Americans before and after taking office in the White House. The brazen falsehoods, manipulating and reshaping events to fit one’s own vision regardless of what other people saw and knew.
Aside from the made-up club titles, Reilly spoke to ex-caddies and playmates who were stunned by his unsubtle cheating.
Trump’s wilder claims include that he has a 2.8 handicap. Jack Nicklaus, who has won more golf majors than any other player in the history of the game, currently has a handicap of 5.2. Trump is seven years younger than Nicklaus, but Reilly asks a rhetorical question: “When you needed a partner for a death match. . . Would you take Trump or Jack Nicklaus? “
Golf courses play a major role in Trump’s financial reports during the recent New York Times revelations: the 17 golf courses he owns are estimated to have lost a total of $ 315 million since 2000. In the worst of times, Trump continued to find time to golf. He took the class on Memorial Day, a holiday notorious for coinciding with the date when American coronavirus deaths hit 100,000. That was in May: it has doubled since then.
America was on the verge of nine million cases on Friday. Incidentally, Nicklaus has stated that he has already tested positive for the virus and luckily has recovered from it.
Nicklaus is just one of the millions of Americans who have voted for Trump, and he has shown his support since the beginning of his presidency. But one such explicit statement on the eve of the polling and after such a traumatic and divisive summer in America is to nail its colors to the mast. After all.
And that is why there was such an avalanche of consternation from so many in Nicklaus’ public confession. Nicklaus won his first major in 1962, beating Arnold Palmer in a US Open playoff. It was a different world: JFK was President: America in Camelot.
Since then, Nicklaus has stood for a special kind of American grace: naturally decent, strictly humble, as he walked through a shine of fame, a success story, a philanthropist, the epitome of family values, polite to a mistake and well-intentioned if, perhaps closely and a supporter of the status quo.
It has been reported not unreported that the proposed White House budget includes a $ 20 million allocation for Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Perhaps that promise influenced the late confirmation.
But a reputation created over half a century was instantly and irrevocably damaged overnight in the eyes of many former Nicklaus fans – and improved for his fans, who will also vote red.
Golf is a diluted sport. There are large parts of US society that never have and never will see a golf course and for whom this world is inaccessible. The fascinating thing about Nicklaus’ message is that it sheds light on attitudes within the old prevailing orthodoxy: the suburban and business classes, the leisure and pleasure class – and the privileged. And they’re fucking crazy.
As America approaches a crucial, fiery week in its modern history, there is only one certainty. Indeed, Donald Trump will be too busy for golf.
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