Blue State Blues: The Golf That Divides Americans
President Barack Obama is fond of describing the deep inequality afflicting American society. And then he goes off to play golf. He's getting near the 200-round mark for his entire presidency, a sporting feat perhaps worthy of Teddy Roosevelt for its sheer audacity.
Golf is the most unequal sport in America, demanding expensive fees or country club memberships. Yet if the president plays it so often, golf must be inherently patriotic--right?
So, while visiting Chicago, in the Fourth of July spirit, I recovered an old set of clubs from my parents' garage and headed to the local nine-hole.
My brother was supposed to come with me, but he had to pick up his in-laws from the airport. In retrospect, he made the right choice: O'Hare has less traffic than the golf course; you only have to carry the in-laws' luggage to the car, not around the whole place; and the in-laws are less frustrating.
I hadn't played golf in at least a year or so. I can say this: I haven't lost any of my skill since then. I'm just as good this year. Which is really unique, because most people improve over time.
I did save par with a chip shot on the par-3 8th, and I hit a wicked mulligan on the par-3 9th. (They're all par 3.) I finished with a fantastic 27, although that was only because I skipped holes 3 through 7, in the interests of saving time and good sportsmanship.
After 40 minutes or so of golf, which is about all I could take, I have new respect for President Obama. The job of president must really be awful if he thinks playing golf is a way to escape.
I also understand why he plays so often: he wants to get as many games in as possible while he still doesn't have to wait for a tee time or a slow foursome ahead. Good lord, the waiting! It is, to borrow a phrase, like the remorse of chess. It kills a man.
People who play golf well are really special. People who play it anyway may be insane.
I do have many good memories of playing golf in summertime visits to my cousins in southern Ohio. That's John Boehner country nowadays, and the man likes his golf, among other vices. I would, too, if I lived there. The rolling hills, the tall cornfields in the rough, the low green fees for non-members--it's enough to charm even a die-hard golf skeptic.
Still, the idea that spending several hours or days--not to mention thousands of miles on Air Force One--on this carbon-intensive, water-sucking hobby while lecturing the rest of us on the need to cut emissions is somehow politically acceptable is an indictment of the media.
It is worth noting that the supine White House Press Corps only began to find its courage last year when demanding more access to see the president play golf on vacation.
A recent Quinnipiac poll suggests that Americans now believe President Obama is the worst U.S. president since World War II--worse than the Devil incarnate, George W. Bush himself. Bush, widely derided by the left as an idiot, had the good sense to stop playing golf in the midst of a difficult war in Iraq--after the media beat up on him for hitting the links in the midst of the war on terror (and joking about it). Obama just keeps three-putting.
Perhaps it's all catching up to him. Perhaps he's realizing that unlike golf, the world doesn't grade you on a handicap. Perhaps one day he'll look back at eight years of golf and wonder whether he could have done more for the country. (Perhaps we'll look back at those same eight years and be glad he didn't.)
Regardless, I'm glad to have shared something in common with President Obama on this Fourth of July. I'm sure we both cheated.