EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

August 18, 2013

Obama is eager member of golfing presidents' club

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. (AP) — American presidents love golf — 15 of the last 18 have played — and Barack Obama is an eager member of that club.

He’s played golf on four of six days since arriving on the Massachusetts island of Martha’s Vineyard last Saturday. The White House never releases his scores and generally does not allow news coverage of his games — although it did allow the press to watch him briefly once this week.

Tiger Woods played with Obama in Florida last February and said at the time that the left-handed president hits the ball well.

“If he ever spent — after these four years — spent more time playing the game of golf, I’m sure he could get to where he’s a pretty good stick,” Woods said. “He’s got an amazing touch. He can certainly chip and putt.”

Obama’s interest in golf dates back to his high school years when he started playing in Hawaii. Later, golf was a pastime during the eight, sometimes frustrating, years he spent as an Illinois senator.

Democrats were the minority party when Obama took his Illinois Senate seat in January 1997. Majority Republicans hardly ever sought them out and paid scant attention to their priorities. So when he had free time, Obama often joined fellow senators and lobbyist friends on golf courses in the state capital of Springfield.

“When you’re in the minority you have a lot of time on your hands because nobody is seeking you out for advice or votes,” said state Sen. Terry Link, who took his seat the same year as Obama. “So what we did is we decided to start playing golf when the weather broke and we were still down” in Springfield. They tried to play a couple of times a week, he said.

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