During last year’s presidential election campaign, one of Joe Biden’s strongest arguments to voters was that he wasn’t Donald Trump.
After engaging in the favorite pastime of the “former guy” with the first trip to a golf course of his presidency on Saturday, he finds that he still isn’t.
“The course record was still intact,” Biden quipped to reporters after an apparently underwhelming round with an adviser, Steve Ricchetti, and his late son Beau’s father-in-law Ron Olivere at the Wilmington country club in Delaware.
In contrast to the golf-loving Trump, whose frequent trips to the fairways during his only term in office were matched only by his over-exaggerations and flat-out lies about his achievements, Biden has never professed to be an avid follower or prolific player of the game.
But in the same year, as Trump was running for office and Biden was mulling his own political future, he told the then Irish prime minister Enda Kenny: “If you want to keep your handicap in golf don’t run for president.”
During an average round with Kenny at the taoiseach’s home course at Castlebar, County Mayo, Biden was asked how his golf game was going. “Fortunately politics is going better,” the then US vice-president replied.
Since then, Biden has been more of an occasional player, and until Saturday had not visited a golf course since his inauguration on 20 January.
By this stage of his own presidency, Trump had already recorded 19 separate visits to golf courses, mostly at resorts he owned, such as Trump International in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Trump National course in Potomac, Virginia, according to the website trumpgolfcount.com.
After promising voters he would be too busy to play, Trump racked up some 300 rounds of golf in 150 visits during the four years of his administration, costing taxpayers almost $146m, the website estimated.
Trump, meanwhile, was a fierce critic of the golfing habits of Obama, another president with a fondness for the game, and who admitted in 2016 to “an honest 13” as a handicap. Trump, who claims a 2.8 handicap, attacked Obama about golf at least 27 times on Twitter, according to the sports blog SBNation.
A CNN fact check last year, however, found Trump had played far more frequently than his predecessor, including on Memorial Day weekend as coronavirus deaths in the US approached 100,000.