BEDMINSTER, New Jersey – President Donald Trump spent much of Saturday in a glass-enclosed viewing stand alongside the 15th hole at Trump National Golf Club, giving both the press and the public a rare minute-by-minute view of his afternoon.
Surrounded by aides, family and friends inside the protected fish tank of the viewing area, Trump watched the U.S Women’s Open golf tournament on a television screen in the booth with dozens of onlookers watching his every move.
Though he could have watched at least some of the tournament live from the viewing stand—at least two holes were nearby—he opted to instead face the TV and chat with his guests, while eating what looked to be French fries. Toward the end of the day, the president appeared to briefly watch the tournament through the glass enclosure.
The president seemed to delight in the adoration of the crowd, repeatedly approaching the glass to wave to gawkers outside. Guests at the club appeared to be astonished that they were so close to the president, exclaiming “I love you!” and “I voted for you!” One woman was so excited to see the president that she cried.
The president arrived at the golf club Friday afternoon after returning from his whirlwind Bastille Day trip to Paris. It’s his fourth trip to Bedminster since taking office.
Trump was joined for much of the day by his son Eric Trump.
His eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who are both under fire for meeting last year with a Russian lawyer who offered dirt on Hillary Clinton before the election, were not seen by reporters.
Trump showed no signs that the escalating Russia investigations were weighing on him. He smiled and joked with his guests, and greeted several players, at one point giving Norwegian golfer Suzann Pettersen a “Make America Great Again” hat.
Trump has promoted the golf tournament at least four times on Twitter in recent days, using his platform as president to draw attention to the event. The Trump Organization owns the golf club, and the president stands to benefit financially from the tournament.
“Just got to the #USWomensOpen in Bedminster, New Jersey. People are really happy with record high stock market – up over 17% since election!” Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon.
A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Administration officials say Trump relishes his time away from the White House, which can be isolating for any president.
The commotion from Trump’s visit diverted some guests’ attention from the tournament. Most people standing next to the 15th hole were facing the president’s box instead of the course.
Some volunteers and avid golf fans shushed the crowd as people cheered for Trump.
“Quiet! Jesus, we’re on a golf course,” one person said.
Other guests expressed outrage at the president’s presence, arguing it is inappropriate to host a women’s golf tournament in light of Trump’s past comments about women.
One woman, who declined to give her name, murmured under her breath that she wanted to give the president the middle finger.