After months of public anticipation, President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) have settled on a date to play golf together: Saturday, June 18.
Both Obama’s and Boehner’s offices confirmed the date Friday afternoon, as reports emerged after months of playing coy about whether the golf addicts from different political parties would ever play together. No other details would be released about the golf match, according to the speaker’s aides.
The rest of the golf world will be transfixed by another major event in the Washington region, the U.S. Open, being held June 16-19 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md. The political world, however, will view the Obama-Boehner match with bated breath, looking for any insight into whether the left-handed-playing president and right-handed-playing speaker can forge a lasting relationship that will spill over into legislative deal-cutting.
Boehner is widely considered the much better player, having started playing when he was in his 20s. Later in life, as a successful businessman, he joined Wetherington Golf and Country Club outside Cincinnati. Obama didn’t really become a regular player until he became president, when he started using golf outings to maintain a level of normalcy to escape the intense life inside the presidential bubble. Of late, however, Obama has been improving his game as Boehner’s has deteriorated.
According to Golf Digest, Obama is now a 17-handicap. That means that he usually shoots about a 90 on a course with an overall par of 72.
Boehner’s handicap has drifted up from about 5 or 6, before he became the GOP leader in 2007, to an 8.5, according to an official handicap site. Boehner has not broken 80 at his home course, Wetherington, since last May — at which point his campaign for Republicans to win the majority in the November midterms shifted into high gear.
Both men have faced criticism over their golf habit. Democrats have lampooned Boehner for being a wealthy golfer playing the game with lobbyists at resort locations. Republicans have questioned the propriety of Obama playing a game of leisure during times of war — on May 1, the day of the successful raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the president played nine holes that afternoon.
Boehner does not fault anyone for love of the game, as he said in a “60 Minutes” interview in December.
“Listen, playing golf with someone is a great way to really get to know someone. You start trying to hit that little white ball. You can’t be somebody that you’re not because all of you shows up,” he said.