President Obama and Tiger Woods played golf, and White House reporters are teed off
By Tracee Hamilton,
Are you upset that you haven’t seen video or photos or interviews from President Obama’s round of golf with Tiger Woods on Sunday? At the risk of betraying my media colleagues, I’m not. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to see Obama’s game, but we’re heading into Tiger Time, that nine months of the year when it’s Tiger Tiger Tiger. Anything that shaves a few seconds off Tiger Time is fine by me.
Don’t get me wrong: I love to watch Woods play golf. Against professionals. In tournaments. I don’t need to see him and the president yukking it up.
But members of the White House press corps decried their inability to see the president’s tee shot or interview him about the experience, citing it as yet another example of his inaccessibility. That may be — Obama is still more accessible than many sports figures. I cite Daniel Snyder and Strasburg the Early Years as two examples. But what a strange event over which to take a stand. If the reporters who cover the White House feel they’re being obfuscated by the administration, they should make their case over something more important.
Woods, of course, is already playing professional golf, snowstorms in Arizona notwithstanding, and starting in March we’ll see ads touting the Masters during every commercial break in college basketball coverage. Many of those will include Woods, because he’s Woods. By the time the NCAA tournament ends, we’ll be sick of the azaleas and the hushed tones and the green jacket references. And then the Masters will begin.
So count me among those who don’t care if the world was Woods-less for a day or two. No one from his camp complained about the dearth of media coverage, that’s for sure.
If the man who may or may not be the best golfer to play the game is more transparent than the leader of the free world — and that’s saying something, considering Woods rarely grants interviews unless they are mandated by the PGA — that may be a problem. But if I were covering the president, I would push for access to something more important than a round of golf that also included U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.
Both Woods and Obama eventually did talk about their Mystery Date. And it was riveting stuff.
Here is what Woods, who spoke to reporters Tuesday at the site of the Match Play Championship in Arizona, learned from Sunday’s round: “Playing with Mr. President was pretty cool. . . . If he ever spent more time playing the game of golf, I’m sure he could get to where he’s a pretty good stick.”
Here is how Obama described the experience of playing with Woods to a San Francisco TV station: “He is on another planet.”
Of course, it wasn’t about the golf. It was about access to the president, who apparently is capable of amazing feats like skeet shooting when left unsupervised. He might fix the economy or fight off a gator with a 9-iron, and we’d miss it. (Well, I wouldn’t mind seeing him fight off the gator, but one assumes the Secret Service would have been all over that action.)
So we have a White House press corps with its nose out of joint because its members didn’t have access to Obama for a long weekend, which included a federal holiday known as — wait for it — Presidents’ Day.
“This isn’t about the president’s golf score or having a beer on the 19th hole,” Rick Blum, director of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, a group promoting policies for government accessibility and accountability, told Fox News. “This really gets to the president being responsive to the public.”
This member of the public did not feel the lack of presidential oversight, or the lack of Woods minutiae, last weekend. Maybe I’m alone in that. If the president actually disappears for four days, or if Woods is actually found on another planet, then I’ll get my indignation on. Until then, I’ll save it for Chinese hackers and gas prices.
For previous columns by Tracee Hamilton, visit washingtonpost.com/
More on golf: Forum: Do we care about the Obama/Woods round? Woods on Obama golf game: ‘We won’ PGA Tour schedule and results Wednesday: Match Play halted by snow