The presidents very public obsession with golf represents everything that makes a good game easy to dislike. But then, on Sunday, came a miracle
Grotesque, malevolent and a cheat at golf: does Auric Goldfinger remind you of anyone? And theres the obsession with gold. Goldfingers Rolls-Royce is panelled in solid gold and he kills a woman by having her covered with gold paint. Donald Trumps use of gold is a little less original, more symbolic than functional: its the colour, for instance, of Trump Tower in Las Vegas, gleaming like a huge gold brick standing on its end above the neon-lit Strip.
But its the cheating at golf that concerns us here. One of the most beguiling of Bond villains, Goldfinger is first encountered rigging a game of two-handed canasta by the pool at a Miami hotel. When he next encounters 007, it is at Royal St Marks on the Kent coast, a thinly disguised Royal St Georges. They agree to play a round for money: double or quits for the $10,000 Bond took off Goldfinger in Florida.
The original version, in Ian Flemings book, is a gripping shot-by-shot account of a game during which Bond observes his adversarys various underhand ploys. Goldfinger lets his shadow fall across his opponents teed-up ball and jiggles coins in his pocket just as Bond is about to play. He jumps up in a bunker, ostensibly to get a better view over the lip but actually to improve his lie in the sand. And when his ball is lost in the deep rough, he bribes his caddy to drop another one in a better position. Fleming knew golf well, and although he was writing 60 years ago, when players would pull a spoon or a niblick out of their bag rather than a fairway wood or a nine-iron, there is nothing dated about Bonds cleverly planned revenge.
In the 1964 film, Goldfinger is played by Gert Frbe, a wide-bodied German actor who as well as getting the best line in any Bond film (No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!) conveys a familiar combination of vast entitlement and vindictive paranoia. Watching it the other night, in the middle of reading a book called Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, it was possible to imagine that repeated viewings of the film at an impressionable age inspired his approach to life as well as golf. If golf explains Trump, then so does Goldfinger.