President Donald Trump at his golf course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty

The president reportedly installed a "golf simulator" at personal expense in the White House — and it's an upgrade of one President Obama used to have

February 13, 2019 03:50 PM

President Donald Trump, a golf enthusiast unafraid of criticizing his predecessors for playing golf, installed a $50,000 “golf simulator” the size of an entire room at the White House, according to the Washington Post.

The game is actually an upgrade of a previous system put in by former President Barack Obama, the Post reported on Wednesday.

The paper describes Trump’s new system as “allow[ing] him to play virtual rounds at courses all over the world by hitting a ball into a large video screen.”

An anonymous administration official told the Post that Trump paid for the golf simulator personally but had yet to use it. The system was installed in recent weeks in the White House’s personal quarters, according to the Post.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE on Wednesday.

A former Obama White House official confirmed to PEOPLE that Obama did have a golf simulator installed but “it wasn’t particularly fancy or high-tech.”

The official did not provide more details about the game or Obama’s use of it.

Trump has golfed often during his downtime while president, despite vocally criticizing Obama for the same. “I play golf to relax. My company is in great shape. @BarackObama plays golf to escape work while America goes down the drain,” he tweeted in 2011.

According to the Post, Trump has played golf nearly twice as often annually as his predecessor — and at his own properties, fueling concerns from ethics watchdogs about the mixing of personal and business interests.

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Last month, in a disarming sign of disloyalty from within the White House, a Trump official official leaked 51 days of the president’s schedules from November to February showing that he spends hours each day in unstructured “executive time,” a concept that is distinct to his administration.

Chafing at tight scheduling, Trump has preferred open-ended periods where he can mix favorite activities including watching cable news, tweeting and talking with friends, aides, reporters and lawmakers.

“He’s always calling people,” an anonymous aide told the political website Axios, which first obtained the schedules.

The aide added, “He’s always up to something; it’s just not what you would consider typical structure.”

In a statement to Axios, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders did not dispute the authenticity of the schedules. She said Trump “has a different leadership style than his predecessors and the results speak for themselves.”

Days later, on Twitter, the president defended himself in even bolder terms: “No president ever worked harder than me (cleaning up the mess I inherited)!”

As The New York Times reported in 2017, the Trump administration has often obscured the frequency with which Trump plays golf. And despite downplaying his time on the golf course, he has made no secret of it.

Earlier this month, after more than two months away, he shared a photo of a game played with golfing legends Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. “Great morning at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida,” he wrote.

Nearly five years earlier, in a swipe at frequent critic and fellow billionaire Mark Cuban, Trump tweeted: “I’ve won 18 Club Championships including this weekend. @mcuban swings like a little girl with no power or talent.”

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