Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Hawaii: President Obama Spends New Year's Day 2014 On The Golf Course With Sam Kass

The President and Kass confer on the 18th hole
First leisurely game of the year is at members-only Mid Pacific Country Club  with five companions...
Honolulu, HI - President Barack Obama kicked off 2014 on Wednesday with a five hour, ten minute golf game, playing 18 holes with Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy Sam Kass and four other buddies on the members-only course at the Mid Pacific Country Club in the Lanikai community of Kailua, located close to his vacation rental compound.  
The President wore a white short-sleeved shirt and khaki pants with a beige baseball cap as he got a late start to his day after ringing in the New Year privately with family and friends on Tuesday night.  He skipped his standard early morning workout and arrived at the club at 11:18 AM.

 The President's first game of the year was his seventh in twelve days of vacation after arriving on Oahu on Dec. 20th, and Kass' fifth with his boss on island.  They last played together on Monday at the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club.  Mid Pac, as the club is known,
has dramatic views of the Ko'olau Mountains and the iconic Mokulua Islands.

Kass and Nicholson behind the President
The other players for the game have all joined the President on the links during his island idyll, too: Hawaii friend Bobby Titcomb, Chicago friends Marty Nesbitt and Andrew Dibble, and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson.

Kass, a baseball star in his school days, told Obama Foodorama in 2012 that he started playing golf thanks to his boss, but last October he admitted he needs help with his game.  

"I'm suffering out there...I need some tips," Kass told the wife of a golf pro at a Let's Move! event.  "It's not pretty."  The President's handicap is estimated at 16 or 17.

Wearing a bright blue shirt, long black pants, and black shoes, Kass missed a putt on the 18th hole when the White House allowed the media a photo op of the President in action at about 4:15 PM, placing the press pool on a public street above the course that has a view of the greens.  

A crowd of about two dozen onlookers with smartphones was also gathered to see the Golfer in Chief anointing the New Year, and cheered as they took photos. 

Using a rangefinder on the 18th hole
Standing at the middle of the fairway, the President used a range finder to see how far away the 18th hole was, then swung his club and hit the ball; "he made a fairly decent shot from the fairway, landing roughly 22 feet of the hole. The crowd of onlookers cheered," pool reported (sic). 

Mr. Obama then got onto the golf cart, which he drove himself.  Then he approached his ball (positioned near Kass'), marked it and picked it up and paced back and forth.  He tugged at his cap and leaned on his club, chatting with Kass while eyeing the course and strategizing.  The President watched as Nicholson and Kass both shot and missed. 

A New Year's wave for onlookers
Then the President bent down and placed his ball on the marker.  He used a putter and "narrowly missed the hole by a foot and knocked it in as a gimme. He got it close enough to count as having two-putted," pool said.

At that, the victorious President smiled and waved at the crowd and said, "Happy new year!"

Someone shouted, "We love you!" And the President replied, "I love you back." 

Kass putts the 18th as the President watches
The President also played Mid Pac on Dec. 23rd, minus Kass, who has also joined his boss on the links at Ko'olau on Dec. 26th, on Christmas Eve and on Dec. 21, both on the Kaneohe Klipper course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Wednesday's game was President Obama's 158th since taking office.   

He and his party departed the club at 4:29 PM, and arrived back at the Kailua home at 4:49.  The White House immediately called a lid, with the President and First Family staying in for the evening. 

Best wishes for Mrs. Barbara Bush, and tweets... 
Before heading out to his game, in the morning President Obama issued a statement offering best wishes to former First Lady Barbara Bush, who is hospitalized in Texas with a "respiratory related" illness.  

"Michelle and I send our best wishes to Mrs. Bush for a speedy recovery," President Obama said in his statement.

"Barbara is blessed to have both a loving, supportive family by her side and a vibrant spirit that we hope will have her feeling better soon. I know I speak for Americans everywhere when I say that our thoughts and prayers are with Barbara and her family on this New Year's Day."

The President also wrote a personal tweet on the @WhiteHouse account about the Affordable Care Act.  Coverage began today for Americans who managed to sign up on the glitch-laden website before a December deadline that kept being extended.

"I signed the ACA for kids like Marcelas Owens. He lost his mom bc she couldn't afford coverage. Today millions of Americans finally can. -bo," the President tweeted, signing with his initials to indicate that he had written the tweet.

First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday also offered a personal tweet on her @FLOTUS account.  

"As we look to 2014, let's pledge to keep serving our men and women in uniform, and their families, as well as they've served us. -mo," Mrs. Obama wrote.

CLICK HERE for links to all Hawaii posts. 

The President is scheduled to return to Washington, DC, on Jan. 5th.

*Pool photos by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters