President Obama’s deep love for the golf game has become something of a punchline.
So we can only imagine his excitement Tuesday as he goes throughout his day, meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the late afternoon, all the while awaiting his evening guests.
Around dinnertime, Obama will greet the winning 2013 Presidents Cup team — a collection of the nation’s golf stars — in the East Room for an “event” (photo op) with the players. Obama served as “honorary chairman” of the PGA Tour-organized event for the second time in his presidency last year. The White House had no other details late Monday night about which golfers would be attending the ceremony with Obama (or whether the president plans to sneak in a round with the pros.)
Among last year’s teammates is Tiger Woods, who has played alongside the leader of the free world and is playing in a tournament this week at Bethesda’s Congressional Country Club.
Several weeks after being sworn in for a second term, Obama took a little weekend getaway with some guys. He spent several days on the Florida coast, golfing at a private course, and playing a round with Woods. Obviously Woods was partnered with the president for their game and, according to Woods, they beat U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.
With a budget impasse back in Washington, Obama critics said that trip showed he was out of touch. Obama’s regular golf game has provided classic comedic fodder and is low hanging fruit for opponents to blast his priorities.
CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller, who tracks these things, tweeted last week that by his count Obama had played 175 rounds of golf over his presidency. The president has played twice since. His game Saturday at Fort Belvoir in Virginia brought the total to 177.
When George W. Bush was president he caught a lot of flack for vacation time at his Texas ranch. But he didn’t share Obama’s golf habit. He apparently played only 24 times over his eight years, according to Knoller. He stopped playing in 2003 several months after the Iraq invasion. In 2008 Bush said he gave it up because it sent “the wrong signal” for him to be playing a leisure sport while America was at war.
But even Bush doesn’t begrudge Obama’s hobby. In fall 2013, the former president told the Golf Channel that playing the sport “with your pals” gives the president an outlet from the pressures of the job.
And the current president seems to be even more restless lately, breaking free from the White House several times over the last month for jaunts about town for lunch or coffee or just to chat with nearby tourists.