In the last hours of his presidency, it's time we pause to celebrate Barack Obama's many admirable qualities: his eloquence, his measured temperament, his nimble grasp of complex issues. At Golf Digest, it only makes sense that we also commend him for his deep commitment to supporting the golf industry.
And to be clear, we're not talking about signing legislation for golf, or giving props to the likes of the late Arnold Palmer. Rather, we're just talking about a guy who played a fairly remarkable amount of golf while in office.
Although Obama's golf passion has been a popular target of conservative critics during his term, the extent of his passion really comes into focus when comparing his habits to national averages. With that in mind, let's take a closer look:
Obama played 306 rounds while in office, a healthy amount, but well short of the estimated 1,200 rounds Woodrow Wilson played during his term, or the 800 rounds that Dwight Eisenhower played as POTUS. Still, it's more than his immediate predecessors George W. Bush or Bill Clinton, both of whom were golfers as well.
The 306 rounds over eight years averages out to a little more than 38 rounds a year, which is well above the national average of 19.3, according to figures provided by the National Golf Foundation (NGF).
Obama falls into the category of the "avid golfer," which the NGF defines as golfers who play more than 25 rounds a year. Only 2.1 percent of the entire US population is an avid golfer, and only 25.6 percent of golfers play that often.
At least compared to other avid golfers, Obama isn't particularly crazy. The average avid golfer plays 56 rounds a year, a number Obama matched just once, in 2014, according to the website ObamaGolfCounter.com. Then again, you think of most avid golfers as retired or with an inordinate amount of free time on their hands, not necessarily leading the free world.
Speaking of Obama's frenetic schedule as Commander-in-Chief, it's worth noting that he stepped up his playing considerably in his second term, averaging 47.5 rounds between 2013-16, compared to 27 rounds in the previous terms. Not surprisingly, Obama's quietest year on the course was 2012, which was the year he was asking the American public if he could keep his job.
So as we say goodbye to No. 44 and welcome that other guy who knows a little something about the game, let's thank him for supporting our game even under times of duress. Three hundred-plus rounds is not just a lot of hours logged on the course. That's a lot of balls, tees, and hastily-eaten hot dogs at the turn. We expect you to really ramp it up now that you've gotten rid of your day job.