This Story of Trump Stealing a Guy's Ball to Cheat at Golf Is Fully Bananas

Yes, that's right: Trump allegedly whacked his ball into a pond, then decided to claim another guy's shot as his own.
May 10, 2019, 5:13pm
Donald Trump golfing
Photo by Leon Neal / Getty Staff

UPDATE: Vox has issued the following correction to its post regarding the below: “In an earlier version of this article, the interviewee mischaracterized the age of Ted Virtue’s son who played golf with Trump. All of Virtue’s sons are at least in their 20s, not child-age. We sincerely regret the error.” We’ve updated our headline to reflect the new information.

Donald Trump has always had a contentious relationship with the truth, to the point that gamblers actually make stacks of cash betting on his lies—but a new story about the president cheating at golf is out of control, even for him. This week, author Rick Reilly chatted with Vox in support of his upcoming book, Commander in Cheat, about the various ways Trump has faked his way through his golf career over the years.

The interview is full of stories about Trump naming himself champion at his own golf courses and earning the nickname "Pelé" because of his habit of kicking his own ball into a better position. But when Vox asked Reilly for the "most outrageous cheating story in the book," Reilly dropped a truly wild anecdote about Trump stealing a guy's ball on the golf course.

The whole thing happened down at Trump's golf course near Mar-a-Lago, when Trump decided to muscle his way into a game with film producer Ted Virtue and his young adult son.

Please, just read:

Virtue — who wouldn’t speak to me directly, but the story was reported by Golf.com and I confirmed it through two other members of the club — was playing with his kid, who I think is 10 or 11 years old. He [Trump] sees Ted on the 12th hole and decides to drive his cart over there. He tells Ted: Congrats on winning the club championship, but you didn’t really win it because I was out of town.

Ted tries to laugh it off, but Trump is dead serious. Trump says, “We’re going to play these last six holes for the championship.” And Ted’s like, “I’m playing with my son, but thanks anyway.” But Trump says, “No, your son can play too.” So they end up playing.

They get to a hole with a big pond on it. Both Ted and his son hit the ball on the green, and Trump hits his in the water. By the time they get to the hole, Trump is lining up the kid’s ball. Only now it’s his ball and the caddie has switched it. The kid’s like, “Daddy, that’s my ball.”

But Trump’s caddie goes, “No, this is the president’s ball; your ball went in the water.” Ted and his son look at each other confused, not sure if this is really happening. And Trump’s caddie says, “This is the president’s ball. I don’t know what to tell you.”

Trump makes that putt, wins one up, and declares himself the club champion.

Yes, that's right: Trump allegedly whacked his ball into a pond, then decided to claim another guy's shot as his own, since he had actually managed to make it onto the green. (Additional information revealed that Virtue's son was not 10 or 11 at the time, as described above, but likely a young adult at the time of the incident.) Then, of course, he names himself club champion, because he, uh, likes to do that.

According to Reilly, he was never able to actually confirm the story with Virtue or his son, but he did speak to a few other golfers there that day who backed it up. And, come on: If someone was actually trying to make up a story about Trump cheating, wouldn't they invent something that wasn't so blatantly, bone-headedly villainous?

This is like something that only a cartoon bad guy with a claw for a hand would attempt. Maybe we live in the universe where Biff from Back to the Future gets a hold of the Delorean and turns himself into Trump after all. Apologies, everyone. And an even bigger apology to that unfortunate fellow who was just trying to build some wholesome golf memories with his pop before the president rolled in. At least you will live forever in an ephemeral internet blog.