PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club

The Loop

I'm glad Obama is a golfer

October 28, 2009

Barack Obama's politically correct round of golf with a female this week gives me an excuse to talk about the best round of golf I ever played. There was Roger, Bill and our hostess, Sissy, all from the magazine. It was a half-day Friday in August and before the round we celebrated our hostess's birthday with Kristol. We practiced nothing. It was not the kind of golf we recommend here at Golf Digest. We drank, drove (with a designated driver) and hustled from the parking lot to first tee. Sissy shot 138, giggling all the way. Roger shot 88. Bill shot 79. I shot 68, also giggling a lot. It took us all of three-and-a-half hours to play, walking.


I'll never forget that round and I doubt if any of them could remember it if you offered them cash. Which is the beauty of our sport. It's always about my game. Or yours, or Barack Obama's. Golf is enlightened in its self-centeredness, which means, in the end, it has the capacity to be all-inclusive. As long as your obsession doesn't mess with my obsession, we'll get along fine. Need a fourth? Seriously, you could put a foursome of Israelis in front of a foursome of Palestinians behind Belfast protestants following four Killarney Catholics --- male, female or undecided -- and peace would reign, provided they played at the same pace and weren't armed. Even guys who argue that the sexes need frequent vacations from one another and so belong to male-only clubs or take single-gender buddies trips, often play casual golf with their wives, in my experience. It's a different kind of golf, that's all. But fun, provided no one says, "What am I doing wrong?" or "Can I make a suggestion, Mr. President?"

Where was I? Oh yes. In our hearts, I believe, most golfers tolerate many kinds of playing companions. Updike said "many men are more faithful to their golf partners than to their wives and have stuck with them longer," but I bet most of us are more tolerant than that. Love golf? Play fast? Why don't you join us? Which is why I hope the point of the president's round this week is not that every foursome ought to include a female, but rather that the game belongs to all of us.

Hey, I'm glad Barack Obama plays golf and doesn't care who knows it. I'm glad he plays with men and I'm glad he played the other day with a woman. And I wish you could celebrate it, too. However, next to Steve Williams' caddy bib, nothing seems to bug you like Obama's golf. He has his defenders, occasionally, but most letter-writers refer to our coverage of the President as "politics" and "politics" doesn't belong in a golf magazine. You probably object to my noting here that the president with that round overtook the immediate past president in annual rounds played, 24 to 23. Or, in the view of their spouses, 48 and 46, our goal, Republican and Democrat alike, being to play half as many rounds as our spouses think we do.

But really, political philosophy aside, how can a golfing president be a bad thing? As a friend of mine said today, only in America would we criticize a President when he wins the Nobel Prize. And, I'll add, only in America will golfers -- golfers!-- get after a magazine for writing about a golfing president, or criticize a president for playing golf!

-- Bob Carney