Every time the White House press pool reports that the President is visiting a location whose primary offering is golf (i.e., a "golf club"), the "Trump Golf Count" is increased by one. Visits to two different clubs on the same day (e.g., on February 11, 2017 with Shinzo Abe) count as two visits. Evening visits (e.g., when arriving at Trump National Bedminster for a weekend stay) are currently not counted, although each full day spent at Bedminster is counted as a separate visit.
Whenever there are pictures of Trump playing golf or wearing golf attire such as cleats or a golf glove, or whenever the White House confirms that the President "might have hit a few balls", the confirmed outing count is increased by one.
Since the White House rarely (never?) confirms that Trump has golfed on a particular day, our site's count of "confirmed golf outings" represents an extremely conservative estimate of the dates on which he has actually golfed. As an alternative, Philip Bump of the Washington Post has compiled a list of dates on which the President "likely" golfed, so we now include counts of those dates as "likely" outings both on our chart and in our data table.
Our total estimated cost currently includes three components: (1) Cost of flights to Mar a Lago and Bedminster, New Jersey, using Philip Bump's estimate of $514,000 per hour of flight time, (2) An additional $6.4 million per year, prorated per day at a rate based on money reimbursed so far, allocated to Palm Beach and Bedminster for "extraordinary law enforcement personnel costs", and (3) Coast guard costs for protection of Mar a Lago, estimated at $236,000 per day spent there (see Drew Harwell's report for sources).
The short answer is that the "cost to taxpayers" we report is generally not going directly to Trump, and any that is is not yet being reported. There is clearly an indirect benefit to Trump when he advertises his clubs by playing there and greeting his guests, or when he calls Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster his winter or summer "White House", but there is probably also some money going directly to these clubs for Secret Service members' accomodations and food. When these figures are eventually made public, we will add them to our total.
Trump's stays at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey are different from his visits to his other clubs. Because he owns a house at Bedminster, and press are not allowed access to the club, there is generally no way to tell if he is out on the links at any given time. At this point, whenever Trump spends the greater part of a day at Bedminster, we count it as a "visit". The rules for "confirmed outings" are the same at Bedminster as for other clubs.
While Barack Obama was relatively open about his golf habit (President Obama is said to have golfed more than 300 times during his 8 years in office), Donald Trump has been more secretive about his. Pool reporters are not informed, in general, about the President's golf outings, nor are they allowed to observe him on the links. For this reason, Trump golf trackers have resorted to counting "visits" to golf courses rather than rounds of golf. Even this is a difficult statistic, though. At Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the President lodges at the golf course for multiple days. Should this be one visit or many?
Believe it or not, this is a frequently asked question. Each person is entitled to his or her own opinion, but it is the firm belief of the creators of trumpgolfcount.com that the President does very little work and plays quite a bit of golf when visiting his golf clubs.