PALM CITY, Fla. — President Obama is in the middle of spending a three-day weekend at a posh Florida golf and yacht club. And if taking private training lessons on the links from Tiger Woods’ old coach Saturday wasn’t enough, today the Tiger himself has joined Obama on the links. This is the first time the two played together.
A White House official confirmed to the press that the president was playing with Woods, although media have not been allowed on the resort since the president’s Friday arrival to view any activity.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and the property’s owner, Jim Crane, were also on the course, according to the official. Crane is a former Obama donor and the owner of the Houston Astros baseball team.
Woods, who is among the world’s top professional golfers, was the first person to hold all four major championship titles simultaneously. By contrast, Obama, who only took up the sport in recent years, has previously described himself as only an average duffer. His love of the game is well known however; as of last summer he had played more than a hundred rounds since obtaining the presidency.
Obama has occasionally drawn criticism from opponents for the amount of time he’s spent on golf courses, mainly complaints that it is time wasted away from the Oval Office. But he is far from the golf record holder among U.S. presidents. That goes to Woodrow Wilson, who historians note played 1,200 rounds during his presidency. Former President Dwight Eisenhower takes second place at 800, according to his memorial commission.
Woods is currently the second highest ranking golfer in the world, although his career suffered in 2009 when a messy extramarital affair came to the public eye.
Outside his golfing partners few other details are known of the president’s trip, as the traveling press was denied requests to view activities on the resort. After a Golf Digest reporter allowed into the complex broke the news of Mr. Woods’ appearance, the lack of access for the press corps prompted a statement of protest from the White House Correspondent’s Association and it’s nine-member board of media representatives.
In a written statement, WHCA President and Fox News correspondent Ed Henry wrote, “a broad cross section of our members from print, radio, online and TV have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the President of the United States this entire weekend. There is a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead: transparency.”
Previous presidencies have granted at least some public visibility during similar excursions. White House spokesman Josh Earnest responded to the complaint in a paper release.”
“The press access granted by the White House today is entirely consistent with the press access offered for previous presidential golf outings. It’s also consistent with the press access promised to the White House Press Corps prior to arrival in Florida on Friday evening,” it reads.
The president’s weekend schedule stated there would be no public events.
This report has been updated.