Teeing off for the fifth time on his Martha's Vineyard
vacation, President Barack Obama attempted yet again to
persuade the golf gods to pass favour on his game.
He is the latest in a long line of presidents, from Dwight
Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush to Bill Clinton, who have
loved the game but found it a difficult sport to master.
Obama does not talk much publicly about his golf game, but
those familiar with it say he shoots in the 90s, which is
fairly typical for the average golfer on courses where par is
72 or thereabouts.
He usually plays with friends or staff and sees his several
hours on the golf course as a time to relax and enjoy the
sport, and not get caught up in talking a lot about politics.
He does in fact keep score, and as an avid fan of the game,
he watches golf on television on occasion.
His playing partners during five rounds at Martha's Vineyard
golf courses have included his usual posse, like aide Marvin
Nicholson and White House chef Sam Kass, along with some
friends from the business world. A frequent partner is U.S.
Trade Representative Ron Kirk.
On Saturday (local time), Obama's foursome included Kirk and
comedian Larry David, the creator of "Seinfeld" and "Curb
David moaned about the state of his own game to Golf
Channel's David Feherty recently.
For all the time he has spent struggling on the golf course,
David told Feherty, "I could be speaking foreign languages. I
could be a concert pianist."
Back in February, Obama teed it up with Tiger Woods while on
a golfing weekend in Florida. To get ready for the round, he
took some lessons from Woods' former swing coach, Butch
Harmon told CNN's "Living Golf" programme that he was able to
tinker with Obama's swing to the point that he could hit a
drive 250 yards (229 metres), which is good compared to pros
whose tee shots average 300 yards (274 metres).
"When he gets out of office in another three years and he has
a chance to play, he could probably get down to a 10 or 12
handicap," said Harmon.
On weekends, Obama typically plays courses at Andrews Air
Force Base and the Army's Fort Belvoir base, facilities that
are easily secured in the Washington area. Saturday's round
was his 138th as president, according to CBS News' Mark
Knoller, who keeps track of such things.
Reporters are typically not allowed to watch, although the
White House did allow the press pool to photograph the
left-handed Obama on the first green at Farm Neck Golf Club
Obama has said in interviews that his time on the golf course
allows him to feel almost normal by taking him out of his
cloistered security bubble.
"It's a game that I keep on thinking I should be good at, and
somehow the ball goes this way and that way and never goes
straight," Obama said in a Russian media interview in 2009.
Before golf, Obama and his family got in a little beach time.
Obama, wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia spent the
sunny morning at Kolberg Beach in Edgartown, a day after
watching a spectacular fireworks show in Oak Bluffs and
dining with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Obama is to return to Washington on Sunday, closing out an
eight-day vacation on the island.