Tiger's ex-coach to polish Obama's golf game
Once he obsessed over swing states, now he has the luxury of worrying about the state of his own swing.
Barack Obama will flee winter this long President's Day weekend and plans to polish his golf game on a stag weekend in balmy Florida, reportedly enlisting Butch Harmon, the coach who once schooled Tiger Woods.
With his wife and daughters off on an annual ski trip in the Rocky Mountains, the president, freed of the need to consider what voters might think after his re-election win, will hit the links with some friends.
Obama, an obsessive golfer, normally tees it up on a track at Andrews Air Force Base during the summer months in Washington, and rarely plays at private clubs, unless he is on vacation in Hawaii or Martha's Vineyard.
The White House, weary of complaints by Obama's Republican foes that he spends too much time on the golf course, has yet to confirm the president's plans -- other than to say he will be playing a couple of weekend rounds.
But Golf Digest magazine reported that legendary coach Harmon and his son Claude Harmon III were flying into Palm City, Florida to give Obama's game a tune-up.
"I've played golf with Ike, Nixon, Ford and President Bush 41," Harmon told the magazine before heading to his golf school at the Florida resort to meet the president.
"I never played with President Clinton. I met him in the Oval Office. It'll be interesting. I know the President is a real keen golfer. I'm looking forward to it. It should be fun."
Harmon, who coached Woods during one of the hottest streaks of his career from 1994 to 2003, currently works with Phil Mickelson, who like Obama is a leftie.
He has also helped countless PGA Tour pros, including multiple major champions Ernie Els and Greg Norman.
"It'll be fun to get him down in the learning center, show him stuff in his golf game and see how he takes it to the course," Harmon told Golf Digest.
"He's just like all of us that play golf. He wants to get better."
Harmon said in 2009 when performing an analysis of Obama's swing for the magazine that if he had the chance to work with the president he would get him to introduce more body turn to generate more power.
Though he loves the game, Obama rarely mixes business with pleasure, most often playing with low level staffers in the White House or close friends.
He has played several rounds with ex-president Bill Clinton and once invited House Speaker John Boehner, a fine club player, for a round, though the trip did little to bridge Washington's partisan divides.
The president's scores are a state secret, guarded almost as closely as US nuclear weapons codes, and when Obama plays golf, the press pool that follows him everywhere is often kept far away.
Obama, who is trailed everywhere by Secret Service agents, has said that the golf course is one of the few places where he feels normal, and can get outside for six hours or so.
But his job sometimes follows him to the course. In 2011 Obama conducted a conference call with disaster officials as he played in Martha's Vineyard after a rare earthquake had struck the US east coast.
Obama's critics delight in mocking his golfing obsession, and have in the past branded him "Duffer in chief" and claimed that the time he spends on the golf course would be better spent creating jobs.