Donald Trump reminds me of the Rodney Dangerfield character in Caddyshack, a rich, loudmouthed slob who invades a country club.
“You think I actually want to join this scumatorium?” asks the character, Al Czervik, a real estate developer. “The only reason I’m here is because I might buy it.”
Trump has similarly scaled the walls of patrician sanctuaries, stamping his name on posh golf properties from L.A. to Ireland, Palm Beach to Dubai.
Le Grand Orange (sorry, Rusty) is in Scotland this weekend to visit two of his courses.
At one, near Aberdeen, where Trump’s minions bulldozed fragile seaside sand dunes, he’ll be greeted by a couple of neighbors flying Mexican flags within sight of the clubhouse.
“It’s just to show solidarity with the Mexican people and everyone else that Trump has derided, insulted and intimidated,” neighbor David Milne told the Guardian.
While golf has allowed the puffy politician to put a cap on his preposterous hairdo and mongrelize his inherited millions with old money, his foul mouth is becoming less welcome in the tony golf world.
After his slurs against Mexicans and Muslims, the Old World administrators of the sport, the Royal and Ancient, decided earlier this year that Trump’s other Scottish property, the venerable Turnberry course, would forfeit its turn to host the British Open.
And it was announced this month that Trump National Doral, in Miami, would lose its long-standing stop on the PGA Tour. That tournament will be played next year in Mexico City, presumably attended by hordes of rapists, drug dealers and aspiring wall jumpers.
My association with Trump’s garish golf imprint dates to 1999. That winter, while visiting my mother in Florida, I dropped by Trump International, his first golf property, in West Palm Beach.
(Mister Bluster attaches the words national or international to nearly all of his 17 courses.)
Since I didn’t have a tee time, and the armed guard at the gate didn’t invite me in, I checked out the neighborhood.
Casting a shadow over the course is the 12-storey Palm Beach County jail, the highrise home of the least successful practitioners of South Florida’s preferred occupational pastimes: petty theft and random violence.
Barbed-wire fences, thick shrubbery and armed guards form a Maginot Line between the club and the hoosegow, appropriately complementing the Sun Belt’s primary contribution to humankind – gated communities separating the fatcats from the riff-raff.
“The best view of the course is those cells up on the top floor,” a chatty deputy sheriff told me.
I’d pulled up alongside him in the jail’s maintenance yard and asked whether Trump was getting along with his neighbors.
“He tried to have us moved, but we were here first,” the deputy said with a chuckle. “The boys in the exercise yard like to shout at the golfers. They can’t see them, but they know they’re on the other side of the hedge there.”
The course is on public-owned land, which the county leases to Trump for a song – Jailhouse Rock?
Once a Second World War ammo dump, it borders Gun Club Road, which plays politically with the Republican candidate’s newfound love of WMDs.
During my tour of the neighborhood, I spotted such landmarks as Tommy Richards Bail Bonds, a boutique called Condoms Galore, and T’s Lounge, home of the Miss Nude Southeast USA Pageant and birthplace of topless creamed-corn wrestling, which inspired Carl Hiaasen’s novel Strip Tease and the Demi Moore movie of the same name (shortened to one word).
Trump, of course, is not the first hustler with real estate connections to stake a claim in South Florida.
Al Capone arrived in January 1928, fleeing winter and the
feds in Chicago, hoping to get in some gangster golf before syphilis restricted his backswing.
The original Scarface was warmly embraced by Sunshine State politicians, whose true vocations were – are? – taking kickbacks and peddling swampland.
Slipping a tidy commission to one pol, the big-time bootlegger purchased an estate on Palm Island from the cash-strapped proprietors of the Busch brewing business, a refreshing reversal of Prohibition-era fortunes.
There is scant documentation of Capone’s skill as a golfer. But there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to suggest his enthusiasm for the game rivaled his passions for hookers and homicide.
At home in Chicago, Capone formed a regular foursome with Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn, Fred “Killer” Burke, and Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik.
They played for $500 a hole, cheated shamelessly and invented a game they called Blind Robin: each of the mobsters would lie on the ground and balance a golf ball on his chin, for the others to tee off.
Though no serious injuries were reported, Capone once shot himself in the groin when he hefted his golf bag, forgetting it concealed a .45-calibre revolver.
He played golf until he took up residence at Alcatraz, where he found he was unable to carry the water hazard.
Alphonse Capone died at his Palm Island estate on Jan. 25, 1947, at the age of 48.
His epitaph, ave, imperator, morituri te salutant – hail, emperor, we who are about to die salute you – is an equally apt swansong for Trump’s supporters.