The Slatest

Congratulations to Donald Trump on His Purchase of a $50,000 Golf Simulator

Donald Trump plays a round of golf.
No more going outside! Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The 35-day government shutdown was a haunting experience for Donald Trump. Stuck in the White House around the clock, watching cable news, and occasionally sitting for photo-ops in which he pretended to review important documents at the Resolute Desk, it may have been our president’s most trying time. When it ended, he knew that it could never happen again.

Never, ever again would he endure the trauma of going 35 days without a round of golf.

At some point in “the last few weeks,” the Washington Post reports, Trump “installed a room-sized ‘golf simulator’ game at the White House, which allows him to play virtual rounds at courses all over the world by hitting a ball into a large video screen.”

Keep in mind, as the Post notes, that this system replaces a golf simulator that President Obama had installed. But that simulator, whatever it was, was crap. Trump’s simulator is bigger, better, and more expensive, costing about $50,000.

The Post couldn’t get confirmation on what brand of simulator Trump installed, but $50k is the starting point for the full setup from TrackMan, the brand that many pros use. It’s not just that the TrackMan simulator allows Trump to play famous, virtual courses like the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, when he’s sitting around waiting, waiting, and waiting for Nancy Pelosi to agree to create a concrete edifice along the Rio Grande Valley. He can also measure his swing speed, ball speed, “smash factor,” and spin rates to diagnose the inefficiencies in his game. That way, after he’s completed caving on a high-stakes budget standoff and is ready to play “real” golf with Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, he can be sure that he’s maximizing his length of the tee and hitting his approach shots with precision.

But would the simulator sharpen his short game, or could it actually worsen it—much like how Trump’s shutdown strategy worsened his negotiating position in the conference committee? My Slate colleague Chris Schieffer offers the following warning: “I play in a simulator golf league every Tuesday night. It’s a good way to get full swing reps but inside 50 yards sucks and putting is awful. Also, as cool as it is to play St. Andrews in the sim, it doesn’t really capture it. It all feels the same because there’s no depth perception.

“Sim golf neutralizes a good golfer, basically,” Schieffer adds.

Consumer, take note.

If Trump reluctantly signs the border security bill that offers him $1.375 billion in fencing, less than the $1.6 billion offer that Senate Democrats were prepared to give him in December, he could immediately jet to Florida for Saturday tee time. But say Ann Coulter gets him to change his mind again, and he decides he wants to “fight” the agreement, head into another shutdown, and get zero dollars for physical barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border ever again? At least, in that case, he’d still be able to get some reps in.