At President Trump’s golf club in Southern California, there is a driving range on a cliff, with a stunning view of the blue Pacific. There’s room for 24 golfers.
But, on a recent afternoon, there was only one.
And he was playing with a guilty conscience.
“I feel like I’m cheating on my wife,” said Richard Sullivan, a 59-year-old doctor.
His wife is a fierce opponent of the president’s politics. She’d recently caught Sullivan with a freebie water bottle with the Trump logo. “Don’t ever go to Trump again,” she ordered. Sullivan had stopped playing full $300 rounds of golf here, but sneaked back to the range.
He often found it empty. “It’s just dead all the time,” Sullivan said.
For two years, Donald Trump has been running a first-of-its-kind American experiment. Can one man be the face of a polarizing political movement and a successful hospitality business?
Certainly, some parts of Trump’s empire stand to benefit from his new power. His Mar-a-Lago Club serves as a “winter White House,” where paying guests might watch a national-security meeting unfold over dinner. Trump tweeted repeatedly from his Bedminster, N.J., course this past weekend promoting the U.S. Women’s Open tournament that was happening there.
But in Los Angeles County, the experiment doesn’t seem to be going well.
Since Trump entered the presidential race in June 2015, revenues from greens fees at the L.A. club has dropped by 13 percent, according to figures from the city government.
Charity golf-tournaments, another core piece of the club’s business, have moved away: ESPN relocated its celebrity tournament. The L.A. Galaxy soccer team withdrew. The L.A. Unified School District also moved, forfeiting a $7,500 deposit it had already paid Trump’s course.
Hollywood, another source of…