NOTE: Poll at bottom of page
On August 4, 2012, President Obama celebrated his 51st birthday with a round of golf. Once again the press reported his golf game with mixed reviews — not reviewing how well he played but if he should have played at all.
This is not the first time President Obama has been criticized for playing golf. In June, The President hit a mile-stone, playing 100 rounds of golf while in office. It should be noted the round in June was played on father’s day. When I first saw that he had played so many rounds I was surprised. It certainly seemed excessive.
Why did I think it was excessive? Because I based it on my own experience. I don’t know anyone that plays that much golf (which might be because I live in New England and we only have a few good months each year to play). I also know that for the average golfer it takes a lot of time (we play public courses and it can be quite slow on the weekend). Also, most golfers in their 40’s and 50’s have families and busy lives that don’t accommodate that much time on the course.
Setting aside my personal experience with golf, I asked myself — “Do I have an issue with the President playing golf while in office?” My answer: No. I don’t have an issue with the President of the United States playing golf while in office. My reason is that everyone, even the President of the United States, has a right to “relax and recharge” in whatever way they choose. Every president seems to be criticized for how they spend their “free time.” I recall President Bush was criticized for taking too many trips to Texas. Of course, I use the term “free time” loosely because I think a President is always “on the job.”
If you are wondering if Obama has played the most rounds of golf while President, the answer appears to be no. In my search for other recorded rounds of golf for Presidents in office, I found two Presidents with more time on the links. Woodrow Wilson is reported to have played over 1000 rounds. According to the Eisenhower Memorial website, President Dwight D. Eisenhower played 800 rounds (or about twice a week) during his tenure. But these are not recent Presidents.
How does Obama’s 100 rounds compare to recent Presidents? It has been reported that President Clinton played 80 rounds of golf and President George W. Bush only 24 rounds. Of course, in 2003, President Bush cut back on playing during his presidency because of the war (see Politico Bush Interview.)
According to article by Martin Davis about Golf and American Presidents at CNN.com, Obama is “on par” with Clinton and Eisenhower. In general I do not have a problem with Presidents playing golf while in office; but I think they should be mindful of how much golf they play (especially if the country is facing a crisis).
What do you think? Take the poll and let me know if you think a sitting President should play golf while in office.
Update: As of August 18, 61% of people that took my poll think it is o.k. for the President to play golf.