ClubCorp Exec, a Friend of 20 Years, Offers an Insider's View of Trump — and Says He's a Very Good Golfer

ClubCorp executive Tom Bennison has a message for Donald Trump doubters: Give his golfing buddy a chance.Over the last 20 years, ClubCorp’s 61-year-old senior vice president of business development has played more than 100 rounds with the president-elect.He says this has given him a unique opportunity to see what makes The Donald tick.“The world is just now getting to know the guy I’ve known for 20 years,” Bennison says. “Just as he surprised the world by getting elected, he’s going to surprise the world with what he can do.”By Bennison’s account, Trump doesn’t cheat, throw clubs or temper tantrums, has a great sense of humor, is intuitive and is the most competitive man he’s ever known.Surely there’s a foible or two, right?“I can’t think of what it would be,” Bennison says. “He’s an extraordinary guy. Maybe I’m so close to him that I’m oblivious to the flaws.”How about tweeting after midnight?“OK, so maybe they should close the Twitter account,” he says with a laugh.Bennison’s boss, ClubCorp CEO Eric Affeldt, doesn’t know how the two became so tight. “My only guess is they both have big hair.”“They both have larger than life personalities,” adds Tommy Hicks Jr., who knows both men well. “Tom’s a better person than he is a golfer, and he’s a good golfer.”Their relationship started in 1997, shortly after Trump bought Briar Hall Country Club — now Trump National Westchester — in New York.Bennison was on the hunt to buy golf and private clubs in the Northeast and Midwest for ClubCorp.“I figured, if he’s buying a golf course, he’s probably not going to stop at one,” Bennison says. “So I figured I’d better get to know him.”A Manhattan real estate broker helped set up an introductory meeting at Trump’s office in Trump Tower. He warned Bennison that he’d be lucky to get 15 minutes with Trump, so he’d better make the most of it.“It was just the two of us, and we wound up talking for two hours,” Bennison recalls. “We hit it off and absolutely connected the very first time we met.”Strictly personal  Continue reading...

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