Trump, critic of Obama's golfing, regularly hits the links

 cnn.com  3/20/2017 7:55:25 PM  7  Dan Merica, CNN
Just like Obama, Trump is a big golfer
  • Trump visited the two courses near Mar-a-Lago 10 times in his first two months in office
  • Trump made critiquing Obama for golfing a part of his 2016 message

West Palm Beach, Florida (CNN)President Donald Trump, once a critic of his predecessor's golfing, has visited one of his golf courses in Florida -- seemingly to play the sport -- five of the last seven weekends.

A president's golf play is far from controversial: In fact, it's the most common pastime of the country's leaders. But before he ran for office, Trump was the most fervent critic of the fact that President Barack Obama regularly hit the links with friends, aides and advisers, arguing that it showed the president was unserious about fixing America's problems.

Now that Trump is President, the comments are coming back to complicate his golf habit.

Trump has visited the two courses near his Mar-a-Lago estate -- Trump International Golf Course in West Palm Beach and Trump National Golf Course in Jupiter -- 10 times in the first two months of his presidency.

ARCHIVES: Rory McIlroy: Golf round with Trump 'not an endorsement'

Trump's top aides would rather obscure that fact, especially considering the President's past comments about the sport and the White House.

"I'm going to be working for you; I'm not going to have time to go play golf," Trump said during a 2016 event in Virginia.

For the most part, aides have declined to confirm that Trump was playing golf on weekends in Florida, instead repeatedly telling reporters that the President "may" hit a few balls at his course but that they didn't know for sure.

On multiple occasions, though, Trump's games have been made public. CNN has seen Trump golfing -- driving up the 12th hole on his championship course at Trump International Golf Course -- multiple times during the former reality star's first two months in office.

Asked about playing golf before Air Force One took off from Florida, Trump said he played "very little" over the weekend.

It has also been revealed -- through golf blogs and media reports -- that Trump has played with top professional golfers such as Rory McIlroy, one of the top-ranked golfers in the world. While hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Palm Beach last month, Trump also played a full round with the foreign leader and professional golfer Ernie Els.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump's golfing habit by citing the one day he hosted the Japanese leader, arguing that Trump utilized golf to "foster deeper relations."

"How you use the game of golf is something that he has talked about," Spicer said.

During his presidency Obama also golfed with foreign leaders, including Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, British Prime Minister David Cameron and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

Trump's preferred course by far is the one closest to his Florida home: Trump International Golf Club. He has visited the course all 10 times he has golfed since becoming President. Only one time -- while hosting Abe -- did the President also visit Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter.

Trump also visited his course in Sterling, Virginia, on March 11 for a meeting. It is unclear whether he played.

Trump made critiquing Obama for golfing a part of his 2016 message.

"I love golf, I think it's one of the greats, but I don't have time," then-President-elect Trump said during a December 2016 rally in Michigan. "He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods. We don't have time for this. We don't have time for this. We have to work."

And before he ran for president, Trump would tweet about Obama's golfing.

"Can you believe that, with all of the problems and difficulties facing the US, President Obama spent the day playing golf," Trump tweeted in October 2014. "Worse than Carter."

Now, citing the President's privacy, Trump's aides are left trying to conceal the President's frequent golfing.

This story has been updated.

Just like Obama, Trump is a big golfer
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