CHICAGO — President Barack Obama’s love of golf hit a milestone today as he marked his 100th time on the links. His Father’s Day achievement was reached at the Beverly Country Club in his hometown, the windy city.
Mark Knoller, CBS radio correspondent and chronicler of all things presidential, pointed out the quiet occasion to the traveling press.
Like 15 of the 18 presidents since Theodore Roosevelt, Obama has used golf as a way to unwind outdoors, but away from the prying eyes of press and onlookers. And despite the fact that he had never golfed before taking office, his love of the game is well known.
On warm-weather weekends he frequently visits two courses in the Washington area, Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland and Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Typically close friends or junior aides join him as partners, as was the case today when he brought Marty Nesbitt, a chum and neighbor from this city.
Matching predecessors, he is also known to bring business to the green on occasion. Among others, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former President Bill Clinton, and House Speaker John Boehner have all teed off with Obama at some point.
But which White House occupant was the most devout golfer? George W. Bush was a fan but only hit the links 24 times in his eight years. Golf Digest considers Clinton about par with Obama, the Democrat known to even practice his putting aboard Air Force One. But they don’t even come close to the true Golfer in Chief.
That title falls to Woodrow Wilson, who reportedly played about 1,200 rounds during his presidency. Dwight Eisenhower is the runner-up at 800, according to his memorial commission.
Obama was in Chicago this weekend to attend the wedding Saturday of longtime friend and adviser Valerie Jarrett’s daughter. As of press time it is unknown if his family has further Father’s Day plans, but first lady Michelle Obama is scheduled to deliver a commencement address at Oregon State University this afternoon.
Tonight the president embarks directly for Los Cabos, Mexico, from this city for a G20 summit.
Republicans have attempted to target the president’s hobby as a sign of taking too much time off in an era of economic trouble for the country. In April, Mitt Romney, who does not play the game, told a conservative radio host it displayed a poor work ethic.
“I scratch my head at the capacity of the president to take four hours off on such a regular basis to go golfing,” he said. “I would think you could kind of suck it up for four years, particularly when the American people are out of work.”