News & ToursJanuary 15, 2015

Bill Clinton defends President Obama's golf habit

Former President Bill Clinton defended President Barack Obama's golf habit in a guest appearance on the television show "Late Night with Seth Meyers" on Wednesday.

Meyers brought up the criticism Obama has endured for his frequent rounds of golf, and asked Clinton about the importance of vacations and "how important is it to go somewhere, be it four hours on the golf course?" (Their golf discussion begins at about the one-minute mark).

"They can always get you if they need you," Clinton replied. "They've got the guy that walks around with the football everywhere you are. You always have global communications. I had a lot of international phone calls on golf courses.

"I think it's important. One of the reasons I think presidents like golf is that it takes too much time. And you cannot think about anything else. Literally, I can remember times when I would leave the White House, I was only 10 minutes from the old Army-Navy Golf Club, and they gave the president an honorary membership. And sometimes I'd be out there five holes before I'd hit a good shot, just because I was thinking about all this other stuff. Finally I realized, you're never going to hit a good shot.' Every mind needs some release. So I think it's a good thing."

Related: The First Golfer: President Obama

Obama has played 215 rounds of golf since taking office in January of 2009, according to Mark Knoller, White House correspondent for CBS News, who tracks such minutiae. He played nine times on his recent Hawaiian vacation.

Others can judge for themselves how much golf is too much for a sitting president. But at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in 2009 we asked a Republican, former Vice President Dan Quayle, about Obama playing golf.

"I hope he plays as much as he wants to and I encourage him to play more than he thinks he'll be able to," Quayle said. "It's great for him. I think Obama should play, absolutely. I think it's a great release. I think it's great relaxation. It's something he enjoys.

"And I don't think people are going to begrudge a president going out to play 18 holes of golf on a Saturday morning. They work very hard. Eisenhower during the Korean war and all sorts of things played golf a lot. And I don't think the people held that against him. So I hope he plays."

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