THE STASH NOVEMBER 24, 2009
The Wall Street Journal has an entertaining piece today about the president's increasing love of golf, apparently at the expense of his hoops-playing:
But as president, Mr. Obama has neglected the court. He has played only seven known games of basketball since taking office, compared with 25 rounds of golf, a sport he picked up about a decade ago when he was an Illinois state senator. That's more golf than former President George W. Bush played in two terms, according to CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller, who tracks presidential trivia.
The piece sets out to determine why Obama shrouds his golf game in such secrecy:
And where Mr. Obama's basketball game is showy and often televised, his golf is furtive and off-the-record. He plays with junior aides and discreet longtime friends. There's no press allowed onto the course with him, no cameras -- and few witnesses. A foursome of loyal staffers often plays out ahead of him, clearing the way and trying to ensure no one spies.
The tentative explanation is that he just isn't very good:
Mr. Lombard was shut into the pro shop with a couple dozen other people, who saw the president tee off with a swing Mr. Lombard describes as: "Eh, not so much." The group strained to see a presidential putt. "He took it as a gimme," says Mr. Lombard, referring to the tradition of automatically counting the next stroke as in the hole if the ball is close enough. His conclusion: Mr. Obama "ought to play a little more basketball."
Which sounds plausible to me. But I'd guess that PR considerations loom even larger. After all, golf is kind of an elitist sport. The typical golf outing also takes a lot more time than the typical backyard basketball game. Neither of those things is a huge selling point for an administration taking heat for going easy on Wall Street and doing too little to ease the burden on ordinary Americans.