Redmond: Rick Reilly’s Story About Trump Cheating at Golf Is Completely Unbelievable

ap patrick semansky
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Trump derangement took another fascinating turn on Friday, as “details” of President Trump’s victory over the current Trump International Golf Club champion have been leaked to the press.

Who leaked the supposed details of Trump’s triumph? That would be preening, liberal sports writer Rick Reilly. Formerly of Sports Illustrated, and author of the recently released book, Commander-in-Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump. Which goes into depth on Trump’s alleged history of cheating at golf.

The only problem with Reilly’s story about Trump’s championship match, is that the “facts” he uses to prove his story that Trump is a cheater and a phony, are not facts at all.

But first, what is the story?

It goes like this, while the President was meeting with Kim Jong Un in an effort to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach was having its annual club championship. It was won by a man named Ted Virtue. Well not long after, Trump saw Ted at the club and told him, “Congrats on winning the club championship, but you didn’t really win it because I was out of town.” Long story short, Trump challenges him to a match for the title of club champion. Trump beats Virtue (there’s a headline) but is gracious enough to offer Ted the title of Co-Club Champion. These facts are not in doubt.

So what are the made-up details?

Well, here’s where it gets interesting. This is Reilly’s re-telling of the story in an interview with Vox:

Virtue — who wouldn’t speak to me directly, but the story was reported by 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 9th 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.’

Ok, where to start.

First and foremost, EJ Willingham of Forbes Science has pointed out, that Ted Virtue’s youngest son is 25 years old. Not, 11, as Reilly indicated to Vox. Not many 25-year olds call their fathers “Daddy.” At least I hope that’s the case.

Reilly eventually took to Twitter to address the issue:

Also, mistaking an 11-year-old for a 14-year-old, is a weird, but excusable mistake. Mistaking an 11-year-old for a 25-year-old is something no sane person could, or would do. It wouldn’t likely be a mistake two unnamed sources at Trump International would make — especially since there’s a good chance they would know or be familiar with Virtue and his son. And it wouldn’t be a mistake that a trained journalist of 30-plus years, like Rick Reilly, would make.

A fact which leads us to question whether the mistake regarding the age of Virtue’s son, was really a mistake at all?

The headline-grabbing quote in Reilly’s piece is when Virtue’s man-child turns to him (presumable with tear-filled eyes) and says, “Daddy, that’s my ball.”

That’s a great quote. Yet, that quote doesn’t really work if Virtue’s son has a neck beard and a 401(k).

So, does Reilly mean for us to believe a 25-year-old man actually uttered those words? Or, perhaps sensing he needed this story to be far more juicy in order to really sell those books, did Reilly knowingly lie about the age of Virtue’s son so he could make his “money quote” work? Moreover, since Reilly has admitted that Virtue’s son is not 11, and as such, highly unlikely to have referred to his father as “Daddy,” is Reilly prepared to disavow the quote? Or, are we headed towards a literary Dan Rather-George W. Bush scenario where the facts don’t match the claim, but we still act like the claim is true because a liberal really, really wants it to be true?!

Anyway, that isn’t the only thing that doesn’t make sense in Reilly’s story.

So, Trump saw Virtue on the 9th hole and then said, “we are playing the last six holes for the championship.”  What last six holes? You’re on the 9th hole – you have 10 more holes to play to complete the round.  Why would Trump want to end a match on the 14th hole? That makes no sense. It’s almost as if the story is completely made up. But for the sake of argument, let’s go with it.

The match ended on a hole “with a big pond.” The 14th hole does not have any water at Trump International. It’s as dry as the Sahara. If they started on 9 and played six holes then that is where the competition would end. So where is the big pond, Rick? Was it climate change? Did that “big pond” dry up in the last few months due to global warming? AOC says we only have 12 more years before the world ends due to climate change. Is this the first sign? Have you gotten your affairs in order Rick?

What does Ted Virtue say happened?

Virtue, as his name indicates, seems like a good guy. He hasn’t said anything.

I wonder why Virtue didn’t speak to Reilly? Is it because he doesn’t want to talk to a charlatan? But Reilly says confirmed it through two other members of the club…did they see it? Did Virtue tell them? It’s a big club- who are these people? Can we get a name? You wouldn’t be so desperate to sell a book that you couldn’t be bothered to do basic journalism now would you, Rick?

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.

Did Trump morph into Mr. Burns of the Simpsons? Was Smithers his caddie? Did anybody notice his caddie sprinting toward the green? Weren’t they all in carts? Do you realize how insane this sounds? Why do you insult your reader’s intelligence Rick?

At Breitbart, Reilly’s tale about sprinting caddies, non-existent ponds, and presidentially humiliated man-children, was greeted with instant skepticism. Not because of any partiality towards President Trump, but more so because Reilly’s story is literally insane. And, as of this writing, not corroborated by anyone willing to go on the record.

However, Reilly did make a valiant and fatally flawed attempt at getting corroboration for hs story. After Vox’s Sean Illing asked him for the most “outrageous cheating story” he’d heard about Trump. Which is the question that led Reilly to tell the tale about Trump and the imaginary 11-year-old, Reilly says that also reported the story about Trump cheating in his match against Virtue.

Only problem with that? Nowhere, and I mean nowhere in’s article about Trump’s match with Virtue, does it mention the president cheating. Meaning, obviously, that most certainly did not report the story that Reilly is telling.

So, not only did Reilly either lie or mischaracterize the details of the age of Virtue’s son to Vox. He also fraudulently claimed that backed him up on it. That is some next level stuff there. It also makes it official, that Reilly’s two unnamed sources are the only ones he can claim for the verification of this tale.

However, despite the insanity of the story, the anti-Trumpers ran wild with Reilly’s factually-challenged tale.

Several liberal and left-leaning outlets excitedly reported Reilly’s easily disprovable story.

Donald Trump Reportedly Cheated to Beat a Father and His Son in Golf

And of course, Patient Zero for this clear case of Trump Derangement Syndrome :

Lachlan Markay of the Daily Beast said he was “Absolutely dumbfounded:”

Brendan Nyhan, a contributor to the New York Times, linked to the Vox interview with the smirky “Real Headlines about the President of the United States.”

Scott Dworkin who founded the Democratic Coalition, a Trump resistance organization, started the hashtag #DonTheCon.

Aaron Rupar of Vox amplified Illing’s interview with Reilly and never bothered to correct when new information came forward about the age of Virtue’s son.

Vox’s Sean Illing tweeted a sad about Reilly’s chicanery:

And explain he should. For spreading obvious lies about his golf game, Rick Reilly needs to immediately apologize to the Commander-in-Chief.

Dan Redmond can be found on twitter @danfromdc


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