If It’s The Weekend, It Must Be Golf

[NB: Once again, check the byline. /~Rayne]

It’s Saturday. This must be our time to gaze with longing on the verdure only golf courses grow — and by verdure I don’t mean the fairways, tees, or greens.

I mean good, old American currency.

My father learned to play golf when I was a toddler living out west. It was a way for a geeky dude who was neither white nor monied nor born in California to inject himself into corporate culture. He won’t admit to it but belonging by playing with guys from work did this for him — a little brown dude from an impoverished background became one of them if only as long as he strove to beat their asses on the golf course.

Golf has been one of only two pricey hobbies my father had. The other has been rebuilding vehicles but the means by which he did the rebuilding was so inexpensive — scrabbling for used parts, reading manuals in libraries — my mom didn’t mind the expense. She’d just roll her eyes as he’d wander off to tinker in the garage during the winter months.

Golf wasn’t quite the same. Clubs, bags, balls, shoes, attire, tee times, transportation, all these things couldn’t be done on the cheap. He played twice a week at least during warmer months; once during the week with a league, at least once on weekends. We kids loved it when he played on Sundays as well as Saturdays because it meant four hours without dad driving us bonkers with some yard work or maintenance chore. Dad’s playing golf? Woohoo! Flip on the television and make like a vegetable for those precious four hours.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be the Trump kids. Imagine a father who never really decompresses because his favorite past time is also his business. There’s no escape, no relief. While I condemn Donnie Jr.’s wretched hobby killing animals for sport, I can understand why he does it now.

There’s something very Oedipal for Donnie Jr. about traveling a long way from his father’s sphere and cutting the tail off a large-assed, slow-moving beast, if you think about it.

Imagine how the Trump’s kids’ father’s relationship to golf must have skewed their perceptions about so many things.

Because of my dad I’d grown up seeing golf as decompression time and a means to hang with co-workers though as a woman this had a slightly different utility. It also became a way to get to know in-laws who were hardcore golfers.

And it was the in-laws who changed my perception of golf, and of money.

My dad never belonged to a club. He’s always played at public courses or joined leagues which didn’t require a club membership. As I learned to play and began to golf regularly, I didn’t join either. It simply never occurred to me to join a club until I began playing with in-laws.

They were members, and members at clubs across the country. They’d been members their entire adult lives at the local country club and then they joined courses in Florida. This was a completely different experience for me; I can only liken it to feeling like Danny Noonan in Caddyshack, knowing one’s way around golf clubs but not the club.

(An aside: There’s something here about belonging to a tribe and being an outsider that I can’t quite wrap words around. Keep it in mind as you think about the narcissist Donald Trump and his origins.)

But even my in-laws’ experience, as informative as it was for me, wasn’t Trumpish. It was still a social experience which overlapped with business only because their first membership was in a small town where anybody who owned a business had a social membership if not a full golf membership at the country club. A small business owner would meet both vendors and customers alike over drinks or golf all the time, or dinner and dancing at social events during long, cold winters. But there was still some separation between business and pleasure once they left the country club. There was some greater social obligation besides helping other club members; these people dug each other out of snow banks and babysat each others’ kids. They went to the same churches and fundraising potlucks.

Not so for the Trumps, and increasingly so as Donald Trump invested less money in real estate developments and more into golf course-centered developments.

Look at how Trump’s relationships are characterized. In advance of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination he spoke with “friends and some external advisors” about his choice; at Mar-a-Lago he’s consulted with a “friend and confidante” who “roped in two other friends” to weigh in on Veterans Affairs. There’s no daylight between the people he considers his friends and the members of his golf course clubs, nor external advisors for that matter. How can the public tell them apart without a score card?

In the social circle where golf course and country club memberships are the norm, they really don’t think of the membership fees as access as those outside the circle do. They treat it like ownership in a condominium, and in a way it is — ownership of membership status is an asset which can be sold or passed on to heirs and assigns. There’s generally a cap on memberships in a club — what would be the point if there was no limit to the people who could join? The facilities could be overwhelmed.

Unlimited membership numbers would also reduce the value of the club’s cachet; exclusivity adds value to membership by limiting supply.  It’s Business 101, baby, among the very first things taught in B-school’s indoctrination: if the supply decreases, the price increases. This circle doesn’t even say this; it’s the air they breathe, in their genes.

Trump’s friends don’t see the problem with his consulting them and allowing them to weigh in on governance because they are nearly family — they share this same air, possess the same genes.

Those of us on the outside see this differently. Now we see a family like that in organized crime. We see people who do things for each other, take care of each other, by granting access to resources because of their invested relationship and common interests.

But those resources aren’t theirs — they’re ours.

We fund the Veterans Administration and Veterans Affairs. We elect people who legislate the means by which these functions are administered. We did not elect Ike (who shot a 73, nice game on the back nine) or Bruce (had to take a drop on that last hole, but a nice round), or Marc (developed a nasty slice, needs to spend some time with the club pro) to oversee and direct these public services.

We know absolutely dick about these three guys except that they are friends of Trump and members at Mar-a-Lago.

I made up the modifiers about their golf games but you can see how this stuff works in their world. We’re just abstract fungibles to them, like the stray leaf to be brushed off the 18th green so as not to come between the ball and the cup.

Even Trump’s kids are just abstracts, valued only when they have something to contribute to the rest of the club family.

Hold this last thought about the abstract fungibles. We may start our next round on that tee.

64 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    I should note my dad promised my mom during his first automotive rebuild project that she’d have a two-seater sports car to drive when he was done.

    Never happened. She was so happy when he sold that unfinished British POS that I think she forgot she ever wanted a sports car.

    In hindsight this might have been a very s l o w approach to winning my mom over on golf as a hobby for my dad: there were no unfulfilled promises, no loss of a vehicle’s garage space.

      • Rayne says:

        I’ve never asked my dad what the problem was. You might have hit it on the nose though I think my dad being an electrical engineer should have figured that out sooner rather than later.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Lucas, the man who invented darkness.

        Never rebuild a car that, when you repair it, requires you to take out three parts to get at the broken one.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Easy fix for that is that the arm goes out straight for a right hand turn, and bends up at the elbow for a left hand turn.  (Or is it the other way round?)

              • Arj says:

                This sounds suspiciously like a slur on the British automobile industry.  My first car was an elderly Ford Anglia; even the radio worked provided the lights were on.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Standard English workaround is not to use the electric turn signals, then the headlamps work fine.

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    With the top down, who could hear?  But it would have been a problem on the Mk II, preferably with the 3.8.  A mobstermobile.

                    • Leila512 says:

                      ’65 TR4A, my first car. Great Massey-Ferguson derived engine…too bad the Lucas electronics meant I couldn’t have wipers, lights, heat on simultaneously at traffic stops, or the engine would die. I learned to avoid Lucas like the plague at the tender age of 16…

    • Laura says:

      Husband brought home a 1970s TR7 a couple-three years ago.  He said it would be a fun, relaxing, weekend-entertainment auto restoration project.  This is a guy who successfully rewired a Porsche 928 in his spare time.

      We recently moved the TR7 to our new house.  Note that I didn’t write, ‘We recently drove the TR7 to our new house.’


      • Rayne says:

        I can hear in my head a voice like that of Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road, saying, “Do not, my friends, become addicted to garage space. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!”

        You must prepare yourself either for resignation to a permanently lost TR7-sized footprint, or the day when you will ask, “When will you throw in the towel and admit defeat and sell this for parts?”

        My dad did sell the MG he’d been working on. Unfortunately for my mother he took on my grandfather’s 1933 Ford pickup truck (still in pieces) and a 1974 Chevy pickup truck (perfect working condition as it was when he bought it from a fire department). There is no place to park a car in my parent’s garage up north. ~smh~

        • Laura says:

          Bless your patient mom.  I’m laughing.  I empathize!  At one point we had four junker Porsches in our driveway and another cut in parts in my horse trailer.  After a few years I gently pointed out that he was more stressed than happy with his unfinished projects – he had bit of a revelation about how nice it would be to NOT have all those cars and cleared the driveway.   BTW, this was before Marie Kondo showed up.  I should have written a damn book. Anyway, the Porsches are gone, but the TR7 may be a permanentfixture.

          A couple of years ago, he did buy me a 1985 CJ-7 in mint condition, so I can’t complain.


          • Tom says:

            Some years ago I was listening to the radio and heard a discussion about the idea of “The Dad in the Garage” as if it were some sort of human archetype or sociological phenomenon or trope of modern day life.    I remember because I was out puttering around in my garage at the time.

            • Laura says:

              Husband is indeed often puttering in the garage.   Of course  I’m often puttering and experimenting in the kitchen so #genderroles.

            • P J Evans says:

              Mine had part of his workshop in the garage – I got used to it as a kid. After he retired, my parents moved to west Texas, where the land they had a house put on (a story in itself) came with a “hand house”, a building that had at one time been used for housing farm hands. It became my father’s large workshop, and it was also the garage for the lawn tractor. (The small shop was in the house basement.)

              My father’s father had a small workshop in his garage, too. Most of the small stuff was still there when Granny was getting ready to sell it – more than a decade after he died. Brought back memories of watching him puttering when I was a child.

            • Rayne says:

              Dad in the Garage is a variant of Man Cave. So is Cool Garage and Two Guys in a Garage. I’m partly swagging this because there are tropes in entertainment we see again and again based on the Man Cave.

              If I had to guess the Man Cave serves as a grounding outlet, a place to let one’s hair down after spending too much time in repressive environments. Optimum man caving allows for physical outlets to release pent-up energy. My dad did his puttering around in the garage when he couldn’t spend time on the golf course; working as an engineer in a white collar environment, even in a manufacturing environment, must have been stifling.

              I’ve been lucky that much of my later work was from home where I could putter while I worked. Loved conference calls when I could put the phone on mute and listen while I chop-chopped vegetables for dinner. LOL

  2. Areader2019 says:

    Daughter rose to the exaulted position of captain of her high school golf team.

    In Florida, well…they take golf seriously. It is like hockey in Canada or something. So as a golf dad, I got a cross section of public courses, private clubs, coaches, the whole club house thing. I would say….they have a unique way of never making you feel welcome.

    You would think they would embrace young people playing…they need a new generation of customers. But they scheduled the high school kids to play in August. No one wants to be outside in Florida in August. Daughter passed out from heat stroke a couple of times. But I’m sure August is the cheapest time for high schools to get players on the course.

    The whole experience for me really has nothing to do with the sport, and everything to do with social class.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, golf in Florida is like football in Texas or basketball in Indiana. Obsessively invested.

      It’s unfortunate the golf season happens during the hottest part of the year there; it’s the same time here up north but at least there’s no chance of Zika, getting bitten by a gator, or frequent heat stroke.

      It’s definitely about social class predicated mostly on money and little else. As a high school sport it’s much less affordable than any other.

    • bmaz says:

      That is for their kids, not yours, unfortunately. The only thing your kids can do is consistently beat them. I played basketball and tennis (my experiment with high school football was short lived, although memorable). But the golf team at my HS was first rate, indeed state champs, but was almost solely dominated by kids who were brought up on the local championship level country club. They were VERY good, but they had an advantage nobody else did.

  3. Areader2019 says:

    No one got bit by a gator….though daughter passed out and fell into an agave plant and got a scrape that looked like a gator bite.

    The kids are supposed to practice like they play tournaments…so they pull their clubs on wheels, no driving golf carts. I think that made the old guys on the course crazy. The kids really were not that slow (they would pick up after 8 strokes) but the guys behind us were always frustrated and impatient.

    I suppose they were also frustrated and impatient in the rest of their life too.

  4. Peterr says:

    The legacy of sexism and racism in golf still throws a long shadow. Augusta National, which sees itself as the golf course to which all other courses aspire but shall never reach, refused to allow blacks as members until 1990 and women until 2012.

    I don’t golf, but my mom does, and one of her regular golf buddies (until his health forced him to stop) was an African-American man. The two of them could go on for days with stories about the crap they faced in various ordinary (non-Augusta) places.

    • Rayne says:

      That would make some fascinating storytelling, to hear your mom talk about all that racist and misogynist crap. It’d be worth documenting.

      • Peterr says:

        “The four of us — three men and me — reserved our tee time, and when we came to play, the course starter said ‘your reservation was for a foursome – did someone have to cancel on you?’ I bit my tongue and said through gritted teeth ‘There *are* four of us.'”

        At the first tee, her African-American friend said “I wonder if his problem counting comes from shaving his scorecard too often” and mom and the other two burst out laughing.

        * * *

        I don’t know how many times mom has had something like this happen when golfing with three men, but I know it has happened multiple times.

  5. Viget says:

    OT?  but you kind of brought it up–

    Let’s talk about the VA, shall we?

    Because of the MISSION act, which mandates a new Private option for community card to replace the disaster that was VA choice ( remember, feature, not bug), I am seriously concerned Trump’s cronies are setting the VA up to fail.

    It is interesting to me that despite Sec. Wilkie’s press conference almost 2 weeks ago announcing that the rules package is ready, it’s still not published in the Federal Register.  And if you look deeper, they’ve said it won’t be published until May as an interim final rule.  Which gives the public exactly 30 days to comment prior to the statuatory deadline for the enactment of the program. Not a whole lot of time for such a complicated rule.

    Interestingly, the other rule regarding urgent Care is already published and open for comments.

    Just another example of this administration selling out the public good to the highest bidder.

    • Rapier says:

      The VA’s very real failures are baked into Americas cake. Once hospitals  became for profit or driven by a corporate sort of mandate to expand, for the profit of managers and attending physicians, then it was over for the VA.  To be blunt only losers would become VA administrators or doctors when so much money and status was available in the hospital just down the road.

      Not that the VA did not have problems pre 1980 or so for all  the reasons anything government run that serves the lower class has problems.  Yea, it’s the lower class thing that really is the nail in the coffin. If the wounded and damaged  after Vietnam were nominally middle class when they went into the military the ones who came back less than whole became the lower class.  For all Joe Buck’s reverence for our great “service men and women” he wouldn’t be caught dead in a VA hospital filled with the aging and poor and the damaged patients  staffed by minorities and immigrants. That ain’t the America he wants any part of.

      At this point our free enterprise hospitals crave the VA’s cash flow, the patients  not so much. If the VA hospitals disappeared some   patients would be better off but most would be stuck where they are now. In a place where nobody really wants to deal with them and as cheaply as possible when forced to.

      As long as health care is a ‘market’ in the now universally accepted neoliberal sense the losers are going to lose.

  6. P J Evans says:

    @bmaz February 9, 2019 at 2:00 pm
    Ah, Lucas, “Prince of Darkness”. (ISTR that my parents’ Riley (1951 2.5L 4-door saloon) had Lucas headlights – but they were generally reliable. It didn’t much like summer in the Bay Area, though. (My father bought it after his little brother showed it to him. Little Brother was a resident at the time and didn’t have money. 20 years later, my father sold it to his little brother….)

  7. P J Evans says:

    They introduced us to golf in high school, but, like tennis, it didn’t “take” for me. We watched golf on TV, though, when they showed tournaments. I think in part it was because they were in places we’d probably never visit. (I enjoyed archery, when I met it, but there are so damned few places where I could shoot. I’m out of practice, but it’s still doable, I think. Not as pricey as golf, if you’re not doing it at competition levels, and surprisingly relaxing.)

  8. BobCon says:

    Whenever the subject of golf and country clubs comes up, it’s worth also bringing to the forefront issues of racism and sexism.

    Total exclusion of blacks and strict limits for women were rampant at country clubs and private courses for decades after the civil rights movement began, and tokenism still rules in many of these places.

    And considering the key role of golf and country clubs in business dealmaking and winning promotions at work, this discrimination is an underacknowledged reason why white men are disproportionately represented at the highest levels.

    You can see why traditional golf culture was so appealing to Trump and his biggest backers. What is more, modern high end golf culture, with its carefully crafted token carveouts for minorities and women, is a strong reflection of the modern GOP.

    The failure of modern high end golf culture to address its horrible past is a significant contributing factor to its current decline. Minorities and women who want to rise in the business and political worlds have good reason to find other networks — why bow and scrape to try for a place in such a strict quota system?

    • Gnome de Plume says:

      OMG.  We belonged to a club when we lived in Dallas.  I never used it – it was for the DH, but our daughter was a lifeguard at the pool for a couple of summers.  The horror stories she would tell about the entitled little shits that she had to police go a long way to explaining current adult behavior,  along with the sordid pasts that are being found in yearbooks.

  9. Areader2019 says:

    “they had an advantage nobody else did.”

    That advantage kinda blew my mind. The next rung up the talent ladder, the girls were home schooled. Golf is what they did. One girl, her parents quit their jobs, moved to Florida and bought a house in a district with a top competitive school. So the kid played on the school team…and that all she did. She is NCAA now.

  10. Gnome de Plume says:

    LOL, Rayne! We had a similar childhood. My dad played in a corporate league every Thursday when New England weather said it was golf season. Then every Saturday morning at some club with buddies. We never belonged to a country club, either. During the winter, he was in a bowling league. We were always happy to have him gone for the same reason – no drill sergeant telling us to clean the garage. It was my brother who decided to rebuild a TR3 during his gap year. My brother and one of my sisters are both excellent golfers. I was never interested, so of course I married a golfer. Like I tell people, “I grew up a golf orphan. I became a golf widow.” Obviously, I don’t mind my alone time.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL we’re like siblings from a different golf widow mother! One year my dad did try bowling in the winter; he must have bowled in his 20s before he married because he actually had his own ball. He’d asked my mom to try and find his ball; when she uncovered it, the bag and ball and his shoes were all mildew-y. I cleaned them up for her (she was too disgusted); when dad came home he was rather upset with me because I’d used some cleaner like Pinesol on his bowling ball. Apparently this was a road too far and threatened the integrity of the ball’s surface. (Whatever, Pop, the ball was cleaned, you can blame me for your crappy game.) Anyhow, he only bowled for that winter season and that was that. Might even be the year he took up rebuilding that stupid British sports car.

  11. P J Evans says:

    @BobCon February 9, 2019 at 2:29 pm
    “Total exclusion of blacks and strict limits for women were rampant at country clubs and private courses for decades after the civil rights movement began, and tokenism still rules in many of these places.”

    IIRC, they still have problems with admitting Jewish members in a lot of places. (Ghu only knows what they’d do if a Sikh or a Muslim wanted to join.)

  12. punaise says:

    …and through the sand trap as well, practicing the politics of hate and divot-shun.

    Archie Bunker would be proud.

  13. AitchD says:

    At this hour Ariya Jutanugarn is the best player and could get much better.

    When I was still living in Pittsburgh in the 1990’s I’d sometimes see a beautiful Cadillac with the vanity license plate PAR5N2. Only players can fully appreciate such a feat, and that guy had that plate. I wish I could have met him, asked him where, as I’d played all the good public courses in the tri-state area and some of the private ones.

  14. Democritus says:

    Hmmmmmmm Mark Burnett?

    From Vanity Fair today, I forgot what I went looking for, but saw this:

    “Privately, Wolkoff refuted the characterization. According to bank statements, checks, and internal documents that I’ve reviewed, the $26 million in payment to WIS was largely distributed to third-party vendors and labor. Nearly $24 million was paid for projects related to the work of a subcontractor, Inaugural Productions, an independent organization run by individuals affiliated with television producer Mark Burnett, which was responsible for staging several events. Around $1.6 million was used to compensate 15 contract workers who worked with Wolkoff as staffers. Wolkoff herself received $500,000 for her work on the inauguration. She had submitted audited records to the inauguration committee in March 2017, a month after she signed a gratuitous-services contract to work as an unpaid strategist and senior adviser to the First Lady.”

    Stephanie Winston Wolkoff was the mastermind event producer behind Trump’s inaugural celebration, which has since come under S.D.N.Y. investigation. Now, taped conversations reveal Wolkoff’s concerns with how money was being spent, the general chaos of the process, the involvement of the Trump family, and the people in charge, namely Rick Gates and Tom Barrack.



  15. bmaz says:

    Leila512 @11:52 am – Exactly! I’ve been in multiple Triumphs where you basically had to turn off the headlights at a traffic light if you wanted the engine to stay running.

  16. e.a.f. says:

    funny how racist and classist private golf clubs were. In Vancouver, British Columbia, you had to be “white” and you could not be Jewish. So in the mid 1960s, the Jews opened their own golf and country club. The club still stands today.

    Many of the “private” expensive, “exclusive” clubs, in this century only survived because people from China settled in the Vancouver area and they liked to golf.

    For some of us, it was a very good laugh.

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