WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has installed a "golf simulator" game at the White House that allows him to play virtual games on courses around the world by hitting the ball on a large video screen, according to two people at the system.
This system has replaced a former less sophisticated golf simulator, installed under President Barack Obama, according to two people familiar with the previous system.
The Trump system cost about $ 50,000 and has been installed in recent weeks in a room in his home, said a White House official.
The manager, who requested anonymity to discuss details of the president's private residence, said that Trump had personally paid for the new system and the facility.
Trump built his schedule around long blocks of "executive time" – unstructured periods in the day when the president's schedule does not indicate any formal meetings. He often spends his time watching television, tweeting, holding impromptu meetings and making phone calls, his associates said.
The Axios press briefing examined three months of Trump's working hours and found that "time spent in management" accounted for 60% of his scheduled hours. Axios said that Trump did not usually leave his home to go to the Oval Office until around 11:00.
Trump responded that he uses time productively. "When the term" executive time "is used, I usually work without relaxing," he tweeted shortly after the Axios report.
The White House official said Trump had not used his new golf simulator during his tenure – or at all since his installation.
According to a Washington Post analysis, Trump played golf – the traditional type, on an outdoor course – about 139 times as president, mainly in his own golf clubs. There is no way to have an exact count because he usually does not recognize playing.
But this winter, as Trump's request for a border wall triggered the government's closure for a month, Trump stayed out of the golf course for about 69 days, the longest in his presidency. Trump broke the series on February 2 by playing with golf legends Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus on Trump's course in Jupiter, Florida.
Trump complained to friends during the stop that he missed Mar-a-Lago and his golf course in Florida.
The White House has a long history of changes to meet presidential hobbies. Dwight Eisenhower put on a green. Richard Nixon has added a bowling alley. Obama turned an existing tennis court into a full basketball court and added his own golf simulator. A former Obama aide described the project as "rather unsophisticated" on Tuesday, but did not provide more details.
Trump – then a businessman and a conservative celebrity – has repeatedly blamed Obama for spending too much of his presidency playing golf. "Can you believe that with all the problems and difficulties facing the United States, President Obama spent the day playing golf?" Wrote Trump on Twitter in October 2014.
As president, however, Trump has played golf more often than Obama: Obama played about 38 rounds a year, compared to about 70 a year for Trump. It's just the kind of outdoor golf: Post has not been able to get statistics on Obama's virtual golf game.
Trump has 16 golf courses. Three of them – in Jupiter, Sterling, Virginia. and Turnberry – own simulators manufactured by the Danish company TrackMan Golf, according to the TrackMan website.
TrackMan officials did not respond to multiple requests for feedback asking if they were providing the new White House system.
The TrackMan website offers a description of how the Trump system could work: The system sold by the company includes a faux grass carpet, which serves as a tee and fairway. It has a large flexible screen on which is projected a virtual golf course.
This system offers choices: players can play on a digital copy of the famous St. Andrews course in Scotland or on fictional courses designed specifically for the game. One offers the opportunity to play nine holes among 'temples, volcanoes and dinosaur skeletons "in a South American jungle.
Players then hit a real ball on the screen and the sensors track the speed, effects and trajectory of the ball. Then the computer takes over. It turns this real shot into a virtual shot and shows the ball hovering over the fairways (or dinosaur skeletons) towards the hole.
When the digital ball stops, the player resets with a real ball and hits it again on the screen.
"Feel the excitement of playing real golf on beautiful courses all year round," says the TrackMan website. The system also allows players to analyze their own moves and train without playing on a virtual course.
He says that a complete installation, including turf, screen and sensors, starts at $ 49,995.
How long does it take to play an 18-hole virtual tour?
About an hour if you play alone, according to the websites of indoor golf companies who rent their TrackMan systems to visiting players. But the games can last longer: in a video posted on the TrackMan website, a customer indicates that it takes 3 to 3 and a half hours to play with three friends.
Philip Bump, editor at The Washington Post, contributed to this report.