Magazine article The New Yorker

The Nineteenth Hole

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Nineteenth Hole

Article excerpt

The Nineteenth Hole

American Presidents traditionally choose to be buried in their home towns, often in sight of a library built in their honor. If Donald J. Trump were to win the election, that might change. Although five of his relatives are interred in the Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery, in Middle Village, Queens, Trump has been making plans to spend eternity behind the first tee of one of the courses at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. "Wouldn't you want to be buried here?" he told the Wall Street Journal, in 2015.

It is likely that Trump has no idea that the landscape architect of the club, whose members reportedly pay an initiation fee of three hundred and fifty thousand dollars, was a real-life version of Chance, the gardener--a twenty-four-year-old local named Andy Sick, who had no prior horticultural experience.

Last week, Sick, now thirty-six and a civil-litigation lawyer and app developer who lives in Brooklyn, was sitting at a table at the Tewksbury Inn, a golfer-friendly joint down the street from the club. "It was supposed to be just this summer job before I headed off to law school. It paid seven-fifty an hour," Sick, who has a red beard, said. "I was just a tree-cutter-downer."

Things went smoothly for three weeks, until Trump suddenly fired the golf course's superintendent, Sick's boss. Trump had bought the property in 2002, from investors who'd bought it from the automaker John DeLorean in a bankruptcy sale. But two years and millions of dollars later, there was still no golf course.

A few days after the boss was fired, one of Trump's golf-course architects, Tom Fazio, Jr., spotted Sick planting petunias. "He asked me if I was the landscape architect," Sick said. "I told him yeah. My only gardening experience was mowing my parents' lawn."

Fazio told Sick to get to work, so he went home that night and Googled "French formal gardens." "I knew Trump liked ostentatious stuff, so the gardens of Versailles were a perfect fit. I wasn't even looking at other golf courses. I was just looking at grandiosity." Sick ordered boxwoods and topiaries from a local nursery to frame Bedminster's main clubhouse, DeLorean's old Georgian-style home. …

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