Trump’s presidency ends where so much of it was spent: A Trump Organization property

Trump’s presidency ends where so much of it was spent: A Trump Organization property

12:12 - When Donald Trump was first running for election in 2016, he offered repeated disdain for President Barack Obama’s golf habit.

“I think he’s played 300 rounds of golf or something like that, more than 300,” he said that September. “That’s more golf than many members on the PGA Tour. Okay?”

Were he elected, Trump promised, he’d be “working for you,” as he said that August. “I’m not going to have time to go play golf.”

It took two weeks for President Trump to find the time. On the first weekend in February 2017, his third weekend as president, Trump traveled to his private company’s resort in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, heading out on both Saturday and Sunday for rounds of golf at his nearby club. He did the same thing the following weekend and then the weekend after that.

As with so many other aspects of Trump’s presidency, Trump’s reneging on his pledge to avoid the links and his incessant stops at his privately held properties spurred outrage briefly before fading into background noise. We are now no more surprised that Trump visited a Trump Organization property than we might be that he disparaged a political opponent. These are simply things that happened in the Trump presidency.

But with Trump’s transition back to the private sector on Wednesday, it’s worth noting the scope of his forays to his own properties as president, visits that often included a round of golf or two. After all, Trump’s presidency will end at Mar-a-Lago, a fitting coda for his four-year tenure.

I’ve been documenting his visits to Trump properties from the outset. Here is what that looks like.

There were two periods where he made relatively few trips to his properties. The first was when the government was partially shut down at the end of 2018 after Trump demanded Congress appropriate money to build a wall on the border with Mexico. The other was at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year, a lull that ended when a leading government official on the pandemic task force explicitly stated it was once again okay to play golf.

Here are Trump’s visits to his properties by the numbers:

  • Trump has visited a Trump Organization property on 428 days of his presidency, or one visit every 3.4 days. That means that he has visited on about two days of every week of his presidency.
  • Normally, those two days are weekend days. It was common for him to head to his golf club in Sterling, Va., on warmer weekends when he was in Washington. He visited that club on 106 days, probably playing golf on 103 of them. It was the property to which he paid the most visits.
  • He was president for 418 weekend days. He visited one of his properties on 240 of those days, or on 57 percent of them.
  • Trump probably played 261 rounds of golf as president. This is just an estimate because, unlike Obama, his team often wouldn’t report whether he was playing golf at his properties. If accurate, though, that’s a round every 5.6 days. By contrast, Obama played 333 rounds of golf — over twice as many years. That’s about once every 8.8 days.
  • Trump spent the most time at Mar-a-Lago. He was there for all or part of 142 days of his presidency over 32 visits. He was at his private club in Bedminster, N.J., on 106 days, the same number as the visits he paid to Sterling.
  • The course where Trump played the second-most rounds was Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., a short drive from Mar-a-Lago. He played there an estimated 87 times.
  • As president, he visited 14 Trump properties in seven states, the District of Columbia and three countries, including Scotland and Ireland. He only played two rounds of golf that weren’t at Trump properties; both were in the company of then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan.
  • The amount of government money spent shuttling Trump to his properties and then spent at the properties remains a bit murky. We know that Trump’s first four trips to Mar-a-Lago cost about $14 million, mostly in the costs of operating the aircraft necessary for the trip. If we assume that each trip to the resort costs about $3.4 million, that’s $109 million just for the Mar-a-Lago trips alone.
  • Not all of that money goes to Trump, of course. The Washington Post reported in October that the government had been billed about $2.5 million by Trump properties since he had taken office.
  • Interestingly, Trump only visited the Trump hotel in Washington about two dozen times, despite its proximity to the White House. He returned to Trump Tower in New York only eight times.
  • Of course, Trump Tower is no longer Trump’s actual residence. About halfway through his tenure as president, Trump announced he was moving to Florida. When his presidency concludes at noon on Wednesday, that’s where Trump will be — though his new neighbors in the state have fought to keep him from permanently taking up residence at Mar-a-Lago.

    As he left the White House for the final time on Wednesday, Trump stopped to speak with reporters.

    “It’s been a great honor, the honor of a lifetime,” he said of serving as president. “The greatest people in the world and the greatest home in the world — I call it a home.”

    It’s not entirely clear yet what Trump’s next home will be. But once again it will be, almost necessarily, a Trump property.