With the Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives in January as a result of Tuesday's election, President Obama is going to have to find common ground with the opposition to get anything accomplished in the next two years of his administration. It could very well be that common ground will be a golf course. The President is well known for teeing it up when he has some free time, as is the man expected to be the next Speaker of the House -- Rep. John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio.
In the Golf Digest ranking of Washington's Top 200 golfers, published in 2008, Boehner was ranked No. 36 with a 6.3 handicap (up from a 4.8 in 2005). According to GHIN, Boehner's index was 8.1 as of Nov. 1, the day before the election. The GHIN records show 14 posted rounds for Boehner in 2010 -- all at his home club Wetherington G&CC in Cincinnati -- although all indications are that he plays much more than that, with some of his political opponents placing the number at more than 100 rounds a year.
Boehner is well known for using the golf course to conduct business. Federal Election Commission filings obtained by the Reuters news agency showed that Boehner's political action committee spent $82,998 on golf outings in 2009, including events at Robert Trent Jones GC in Virginia, Muirfield Village near Columbus, Ohio and the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla. "If you're going to ask people to give you money, why not let them enjoy themselves," Boehner told Golf Digest in 2005. Boehner said he doesn't discriminate against lobbyists who don't play golf, but added, "If someone I've gotten to know on the golf course comes into my office with a good argument, I tend to want to listen."
One indication of the amount of time Boehner spends on the golf course could be his ever-present suntan, although even the President likes to poke fun at the interesting hue the Speaker-in-Waiting bears. "We have a lot in common," Obama said this summer at the White House Correspondents Dinner. "He is also a man of color, although not a color that appears to be natural."
If Obama and Boehner want to round out their foursome they could add Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican from Georgia who carries a 7.8 GHIN index and was ranked T-41 on the Golf Digest Top 200, and perhaps Vice President Joe Biden, who was ranked T-48 on the Golf Digest list with an 8.4 index. In any case, no matter what your political views, this might me one of those cases when an old cliche was actually true: Golf was the real winner on Election Day. And perhaps reaching out on the fairway will lead to both sides reaching across the aisle in Congress.
-- Ron Sirak