President Donald Trump—despite publicly separating himself from the Trump Organization after his inauguration—owns 17 golf courses nationwide.
So it’s maybe not surprising that his most trusted advisers are not his political allies, Cabinet members, or former lawyers-turned-fixers. According to the new book, Commander-in-Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump, they’re his indoor and outdoor caddies.
Sportswriter Rick Reilly, the longtime Sports Illustrated and ESPN hand, spent time with two golf-world aides, an ex-Marine in his sixties identified only as A.J and Trump’s social-media director Dan Scavino, to gather a behind-the-scenes look on what it means to carry the president’s bag, physically and metaphorically.
According to frequent Trump course caddie A.J., that means putting another caddie in a chokehold for dissing the boss and also taking the blame when the president hits himself in the face with a golf club.
Here are the top six loopiest tales from the caddyshack that prove the Caddy Code: Show Up, Keep Up, Shut Up:
A Chokehold in the Name of the President
During the 2017 Senior PGA Championship at Trump Washington, A.J. reportedly overheard one caddie to a Tour pro expressing his disdain for the president and decided teach him a lesson.
“He was running his mouth, sir,” A.J. explained, according to an excerpt first published in Politico: “Yellin’ about Mr. Trump. He was sayin’ to somebody, ‘Don’t tell me how I have to feel about him! I hate that motherf-----!’”
The former Marine said he automatically put the Senior Tour player Joe Durant’s caddie, Brian “Sully” Sullivan, in a full military chokehold from behind, while yelling: “Now, you listen to me, f-----! You’re not gonna come to Mr. Trump’s course and eat Mr. Trump’s food and then use the word ‘hate’ about my president. I won’t have it, you got me?”
“It’s possible I was hungover,” Sullivan responded, telling Reilly that his memory is fuzzy. “I don’t like D.C. anyway and I sure as hell didn’t want to be on a Trump course. Some guys started talking about Trump. I mentioned that I can’t stand the son of a b----.”
After A.J physically attacked him, Sullivan said he remembered telling the longtime presidential caddie “if he has to take money from that horse’s ass, then he ought to find a different loop,” according to the excerpt.
He added: “Of course, as luck would have it, he and I got paired for the first two days. We buried the hatchet.”
Defending Against the Haters
Throughout that week-long PGA tournament, protesters would line the entrance daily with signs against Trump—an act of disrespect A.J. could not condone.
“There’d be a bunch a women out front with all their stupid signs,” he said, adding he always made sure to drive right by them. “So I go real slow by ’em, see, hit the window button—zzzzzzttt—toss ’em the bird and I yell, ‘F--- you!’ They’d start yelling at me and I’m like—zzzztttt—right back up. And I laughed.”
Trump Hit Himself With Clubs, but the Caddie Took the Blame
Once, while on the course, A.J. tells Reilly that Trump hit a bad drive and slammed his driver back in his bag in anger. Seemingly blind with rage, the president was allegedly not watching where he was putting his club, causing the driver to ricochet and hit Trump in the head.
“A.J.?” Trump asked angrily, according to the book. “Did you just hit me in the head with my own driver?”
“Sir, Mr. Trump, why would I do that?” A.J. said back, adding he didn’t explain to the president that it was in fact, his fault. “You’re my president!”
Sen. Rand Paul Is a ‘Chooch’
Well before he drew the president’s ire for voting against his dubious declaration of a national emergency at the Mexico border, Sen. Rand Paul was already not a favorite of A.J.’s.
According to Reilly, A.J. calls him “a real chooch.”
What is a chooch?
“Yeah, I don’t know how to translate it, sir. A chooch. He treated me like a peon,” according to the excerpt. “Never even tried to fix a ballmark. Treated me like dirt, sir. He’s a rich guy who thinks he’s above everybody. A real chooch, sir.” (Politico reports Paul didn’t return calls for comment.)
Right-hand Man on the Green, and in the Tweets
Trump social-media director Dan Scavino met the president as a 16-year-old caddy at Briar Hall Golf and Country Club in New York in the summer of 1990.
After an instant connection with the businessman over a 18 holes, Scavino graduated from college and became assistant general manager at Trump Westchester. Quickly rising through the ranks, Scavino became executive vice president and then social-media director when Trump decided to run for president.
Now, in addition to being Trump’s second-hand man on the golf course, he is also his right-hand in the president’s favorite pastime: tweeting. Since seizing power of Trump’s Twitter in 2016, he has become “the conductor of the Trump Train,” as former White House communications director Hope Hicks once called Scavino.
“They share thumbs,” former campaign adviser Barry Bennett said in the book. “They complete each other’s tweets.”
In order for a caddie and his golfer to be in sync, they both most fully trust one another. In 2016, CNN asked Scavino if Trump could do or say that would make him leave. His answer was simple: “no.”
“The president has zero concern that Dan has any interest in anything but serving him,” The New York Times quoted a top administrator saying, according to the book.