George Graham

Even Presidents Deserve Privacy on the Links

I don’t envy President Obama. Not just because of the crushing responsibilities he shoulders as commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful nation. Not just because of the scrutiny and sheer nastiness he must endure as the nation’s first black president. Not just because of the frustration to which he is relentlessly subjected by mean spirited Republicans in Congress.

What prompts my pity (yes, pity!) this morning is the fact that he played golf with Tiger yesterday.

Yes, that Tiger – as in Tiger Woods.

I don’t consider myself a self-conscious type. At the age of 17 I addressed a crowd of thousands in the Albert Hall, and didn’t bat an eye. But there’s no way I would be able to swing a golf club under the watchful gaze of perhaps the greatest golfer ever. I would be frozen solid.

It was scary enough for the left-handed Obama (photo above, right) to have Butch Harmon give him a lesson, but to let Tiger see his swing? Now, that’s what I call raw courage.

The press corps is miffed because reporters weren’t allowed to watch the historic round. On behalf of the White House Correspondents Association, Ed Henry complained about the president’s “lack of transparency.” But what can you expect? Henry is a Fox News contributor. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fox News features a story about Obama’s “massive cover-up” on the golf course.

But I bet the reporters who play golf understand why the president would want to keep his round under wraps. That’s classified information.

President Eisenhower (above, left) had the same problem with the press.¬† They kept asking him what he shot. But he didn’t give in to demands for “transparency” then, either.

He is even quoted as saying:

If I don’t improve, I’m going to pass a law that no one can ask me my golf score.

When Golf Digest produced a campaign-style button with the words, “Don’t Ask What I Shot,” Ike played along with the joke and was pictured wearing¬† one of the buttons.

Ike’s love of golf was legendary. He palled around with the likes of Arnold Palmer, and there’s a pond named after him at Augusta National.

The way Ike saw it, golf helped him relax and recharge his batteries so he could do a better job as president. He is quoted as saying:

Golf . . . . offers healthy respite from daily toil, refreshment of body and mind.

And I can say amen to that; I’ve weathered many a rough spot in my life by taking to the golf course.

President Eisenhower is said to have played 800 rounds of golf during his two terms. Golf Digest estimates he spent more than 1,000 days of his presidency involved in golf-related activities.

And the American people loved him for it. He was credited with doubling participation in the sport, and was elected to the Golf Hall of Fame in appreciation.

Can you imagine the uproar if President Obama spent that much time on the course? He has played only 100 rounds so far, and already Republicans are criticizing him for it.

I guess, as far as they’re concerned, it’s different strokes for different presidents.

Click here for the story about Obama and Tiger.

Click here to read about Ike’s love of golf.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com