The English Caucus.

An Englishman's account of all things American.

Playing golf with the President

Despite the ambiguous heading of this post, I unfortunately didn’t play golf with the President. Instead I played a round of 18 with some serious players in a competition. Now, I’m not a golfer and it showed dramatically yesterday, in short, I was awful. I barely hit good drives, my fairway play was shocking and my recoveries poor. But there was a light at the end of the tunnel for me, my putting. I could read the greens nicely, judge the pace and once I was on the dance floor I felt at home with my putting. So maybe I could play golf with the President, at the Whitehouse, on the putting green. 

When a President is elected in and move to their new home, they get to have something which makes them feel at home, I assume. Incumbent President Obama has built a basketball court, President Nixon a single-lane bowling alley and President Roosevelt built a swimming pool. It was president Eisenhower that built the putting green, himself an avid golfer. The putting green was first installed in 1954 with help from the United States Golf Association and private donations. Apparently,  Roosevelt had trouble keeping the squirrels  (which Truman nearly tamed them by hand feeding them) from burying nuts in the green and joked that the CIA or FBI shoot them for him. But, the groundskeepers relocated them. 

Golf, perhaps, is a game for the Presidents’ of the United States. If I learnt one thing yesterday during my round it’s that golf is a game of patience and that it mustn’t be rushed. A bit like running the most powerful country in the world then i presume? But it doesn’t just have parallels with running the presidency. In fact, there have been many books with the Presidents’ obsession with the patient game, ‘First off the tee’ is one of those books. Don Van Natta Jr. wrote the book about golf as well as those who played in the White House. The New York Times journalist notes that golf is a sport made for Presidents’ - 14 of the last 17 leaders’ took a swing at it. ‘It is a way to really judge their character, they’re really themselves out on the golf course’ say’s Natta. He goes on to say that the presidents’ find the sport ‘a mind game’. So they just love camaraderie. But I would also bet that they just love being away from the Oval Office. It’s fair to say, I think, I won’t be a the President of the US but I’m going to assume that it probably isn’t an easy job to have. Golf therefore is a way of escaping the pressures and hopes of an entire nation. 

An annoyance of mine is that Americans’ don’t seem to like that their President’s play golf, that they shouldn’t be human and do ‘normal’ things. I thought Michael Moore’s footage during Fahrenheit 9/11 was inappropriate, yes it was comical but it was taken completely out of context. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about here it is - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3p9y_OEAdc) Presidents should be able to do as they please, the most recent example was that incumbent Obama said working on last years oil spill was ‘a 9-5 job’ but then was seen to be playing a 4 hour round of golf. Presidents deserve and need some relaxation time, having no rest cannot be healthy and would not freshen there mind. Also, those hardline conservatives in America who argue that we should recognize and accept the limitations of government should understand that having a president working all the time is an unreal request because even when they are on the course they are not completely relaxed they are thinking of the economy or the war in Iraq, problems with the country would never be out of there mind. The poster boy for the Republicans, Ronald Reagan was a casual golfer and was on the green at least once or twice a week. Naturally, the two parties criticise each other in the respect to playing golf. It’s a cheap jab, i would argue, to criticse a president for playing golf. It’s a nothing argument. 

"Golf is a much better alternative than having an extra marital affair with a woman in Argentina or a hooker in NYC."

Whatever it is to decompress, the President should not be taken to account for it. If they are enjoying it, who are we to stop them? Should we also have go at lawyer or Wall Street banker who play soccer or go fishing at their weekends for not concentrating one hundred percent on their work? No. I’m a sports fan. So, Mr. Obama, I would love to play a round on the White House green, just don’t take it too badly if I beat you. 


  1. englishcaucus posted this