10 lessons learned from playing golf with Donald Trump

Wednesday October 17th, 2012
"For all his bluster, he's pretty normal," Travelin' Joe Passov says of the Donald.
Brian Morgan

He's one of golf's most influential people. Here's what I learned over 18 holes with the Donald at Trump Bedminster in Bedminster, N.J.

1. He can flat-out play
Teeing off from the 6,708-yard Blues, with a 144 Slope, he ripped a 1-under 71, with birdies on holes 1, 2 and 8.

2. He loves his driver
He's terrific with the big stick. Starting with an exaggerated backswing that moves into an elegant follow-through, he's out there 260 yards or better, in the short grass, with remarkable frequency.

3. He doesn't need his (limo) driver
On the rare occasions he's not being whisked around in a limo, helicopter or private plane, he loves getting behind the wheel. Trump picked me up at my hotel at 8 a.m. sharp in his Rolls. Beats taking the bus.

4. He's a great putter
Sure, they're his own greens, but that's mostly irrelevant. Mr. T sinks the putts he absolutely must make, and he's a remarkable lag putter as well.

5. He has zero tolerance for slow play
The man has places to be, so his cart moves in a hurry. He drives up to his ball and wastes little time contemplating. It's Trevino-style, "hit and git." We played through a foursome of members on No. 8 who retreated with smiles, as if this happened every time out.

6. He doesn't drink booze
Ever -- owing to losing a brother to alcoholism. He loves his Diet Coke, however, and sneaks the odd Dr. Pepper.

7. He's a rabid competitor
He playfully needled our opponents ("Nice 9-iron," he told one fellow after a pop-up drive) and enjoyed their best efforts. Still, if we hadn't won 3-and-2, I doubt I would have received an invite back.

8. He's a "family" man
Trump has created a warm, welcoming family atmosphere at Trump Bedminster. With his "You're Fired" persona, I almost expected a club full of cigar-chomping Wall Street robber barons. I was way off. Instead, I saw families dining on the patio and kids frolicking by the pool.

9. He likes burgers and hot dogs
No caviar on toast points in sight. Instead, Trump couldn't stop raving about the burgers and dogs. "You must try a hot dog," he said. "They're the best in the world." (What else would they be, I thought—eighth best?) For the record, they were fantastic.

10. He's a regular guy
For all his bluster, he's pretty normal: pumped when he kills a drive, pissed when he misses a putt, but happy simply to share the day with pals. Trump seemed even more real and grounded with his family, helping six-year-old son Barron make a drawing. He's about as "regular" as an iconic billionaire can be.

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