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WASHINGTON — During her daily briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested that playing golf helped President Trump have “one of the most successful first years in office” in 2017.
Trump celebrated the new year with a game of golf at his course in Florida on Monday. Since taking office last Jan. 20, Trump has visited golf courses 91 times and played on the majority of those trips. Sean Spicer, Sanders’s predecessor, told reporters in March that Trump used his time on the golf course productively, implying a contrast to former President Obama.
Yahoo News asked Sanders to identify the biggest thing the president accomplished for the American people while golfing in 2017.
“I think it would certainly be developing deeper and better relationships with members of Congress in which those relationships have helped push forward the president’s agenda, specifically when it comes to helping get the tax reform and tax cuts passed. A lot of that, I think, and the success of that came from the strong relationships that the president has,” Sanders said.
Sanders emphasized the golf games Trump has played with members of the Senate.
“He’s played golf with a number of senators and used that time certainly to accomplish that,” she said.
On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump repeatedly promised he would be too busy to play golf if he was elected.
“I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump said at an event in August 2016.
If Trump serves two terms and keeps up his pace of golfing, he will have played more than 700 rounds by 2025, about twice as many as Obama did during his eight years in the White House.
Spicer had told reporters there is a difference between how Trump and Obama “use the game of golf.”
“You saw him utilize this as an opportunity with Prime Minister Abe to help foster deeper relationships … in Asia and have a growing relationship that’s going to help U.S. interests,” Spicer said of Trump. “How you use the game of golf is something that he’s talked about.”
As president, Trump has golfed with Abe and members of Congress, including Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Trump’s partners for presidential golf games have also included pros like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
There is no definitive list of all of Trump’s golf partners or an exact count of how many times he’s hit the links as president because the White House does not release this information. The White House often repeatedly declines to comment on what Trump is doing when he visits his courses. This silence has even extended to instances when he was photographed on the links by media outlets or other golfers. Last Wednesday, a truck blocked reporters as they attempted to film Trump from public property adjacent to his Florida course. The website TrumpGolfCount.com has created a detailed summary of Trump’s golf outings and based its count of 76 “confirmed” games on photos of Trump on the course or instances when the White House said he was playing.
At the briefing on Tuesday, Yahoo News pressed Sanders on the question of transparency about Trump’s golf game: If the president is accomplishing so much on the course, why hide it? Sanders countered that it’s only “the press that has an issue with his time on the course.”
“The president’s extremely proud of the accomplishments we had during 2017. I don’t think anyone can argue it’s probably one of the most successful first years in office,” Sanders said, adding, “I think we’ve had an extremely successful 2017, and some of that’s due to the relationship building that he was able to do there.”
So, will the White House be more forthcoming about Trump’s golf games in 2018? Yahoo News asked Sanders if they will provide confirmation when he plays and general readouts detailing his partners and the main topics of conversation.
“We provide information when it’s pertinent to the day, and we’ll continue to do that,” said Sanders.
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