From the Rough

Golf without discretion

Can we please stop talking about the number of rounds Obama has played?

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This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, but the President of the United States enjoys a round of golf. How do we know this? Well if you were paying any attention to him when he first took over office last year, you would have noticed that dearth of photos and articles discussing President Obama’s affinity for the game.

Could Barack Obama be a golf addict? He could be. But then again, you’d probably see him out on the course every waking moment of the day. And we all know the POTUS doesn’t have enough time in his schedule to work on his short game as much as he’d like.

When Obama took office, he became the 15th president in the last 18 to play the sport. That statistical trend right there shows you how much the game and the presidency are intertwined. Dwight D. Eisenhower had a putting green outside the Oval Office; Woodrow Wilson loved the game so much, he played in the snow with a black ball; and both Bushes enjoyed the game as well.

So if the sport has been a part of politics for so long, why now is it becoming such a problem?

If there’s one thing I’m tired of hearing about, it’s Obama’s rounds of golf. An article came out recently claiming he had played eight more golf (32 rounds) than President Bush did his entire presidency. So what? The situations were completely different when Obama and Bush were in office.

Here’s what Mark McKinnon from The Daily Beast had to say about the backlash over Obama’s rounds of golf:

Bush was also constantly ridiculed and criticized for playing golf, most memorably by Michael Moore in Fahrenheit 9/11. In August 2003, Bush gave up the game, believing it sent the wrong message to grieving parents of soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, he was ridiculed for that as well.

Obama was criticized by foreign press recently when, unable to travel to pay respects to the president of Poland who was killed in a plane crash, he went golfing.

But there was not a critical peep from the American press.

On Memorial Day last year, the press reverently reported that Obama placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns in the morning, and then observed a moment of silence that afternoon—on the golf course before teeing off. (I can only imagine how this would have been reported if Bush’s moment of “silent remembrance and solemn prayer” was on the green.)

And here’s how ABC reported an outing after Obama had just returned from a trip to Germany visiting the horror of the Holocaust camps: “Nobody would fault Obama for taking Sunday to catch up on sleep and unwind after the breakneck travel schedule. But instead of vegging out on the couch, Obama returned to the White House for only about 90 minutes, then hopped in his motorcade and went right back to Andrews to get in nine holes of golf at one of the three courses on the base.”

And how about this headline from The Washington Post: “Just the Sport for a Leader Most Driven.” Richard Leiby reports, “To some, Obama’s frequent outings reflect a cool self-confidence.” The article then quotes a sports psychologist who said Obama seemed able to play golf despite the grim reports by the media about the wars and the economy.

Seriously, all this talk about his golf is absolutely absurd. Let the man enjoy his free time on the links. It’s his prerogative to use his free time as he pleases. We can all probably imagine how stressful the presidency is on a day-to-day basis.

That why I’d much rather he spend his time decompressing on the course than sitting on the couch, stewing over political matters. It gives him a chance to get out, clear his head, and enjoy mother nature for a couple of hours. It seems like the perfect remedy for anything that could be ailing him.

Presidents before Obama played more golf than he currently does, so why weren’t they criticized and ridiculed for the number of rounds they logged? Remember, there’s never been a direct correlation between golf rounds and the quality of a president, so why start the debate now?

I’d like to make a plea to the political media: Stop worrying about the number of rounds the president plays. He can handle his own when it comes to managing his time. While all of us will probably never agree on his political views, I’m pretty sure we can come to the agreement that golf is a great way to relieve stress — especially for the most power man in the world.

Written by Jonathan Wall

04/22/2010 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Barack Obama, Media

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