The Golf of Politics

If you’re anything like me, I’d like smaller government. No, this is not an article persuading you to vote for fewer taxes or for government to get out of your life. It’s a plea for politicians to play more golf! Politics and golf go together like peas and carrots. We can armchair quarterback all day about how the government shall be doing their job, but for some reason it’s much more fun to critique the political figures’ golf swing. How did they vote on the debt ceiling? What about their voting record on immigration reform? Who cares! More importantly, what is their handicap? That’s what matters in politics. In Washington more than anywhere else, politics and golf have long been linked. (No pun intended).

I have this theory that maybe the world would be a better place if they’d play more golf and play less politics. I mean just recently, there was much ado about an infamous foursome. Yes, it was the “Battle O-Bo” ac- cording to Gold Digest. Speaker John Boehner and Barak Obama joined Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Governor John Kasich for a round of golf on June 18th, 2011. Boehner is listed as a 7.9 and Obama a 17 in Golf Digest’s annual recap of Washington’s power players. Lyndon Johnson once said, “One thing you better learn if you want to be in politics is that you never go out on a golf course and beat the president.” Apparently, Kasich and Biden heeded that wisdom as the succumbed to a Boehner/Obama victory as they won on the 18th hole. According to U.S News, they all enjoyed a cold drink on the clubhouse patio and spent some time chatting with ser- vice members before the president headed back to the White House. Ah, can’t they all just get along!? What a lovely scene.

Maybe the way to world peace is a few rounds. Passion for golf has come from politicians for years; from lobbyists who have used it to sweeten the members of Congress, and the members of Congress have used it to gain knowledge of each other’s habits. The presidential habit of getting on the green seems to be building. Presidential candidates maybe should take note. Instead of campaigning, maybe they better get on the greens and start swinging their club instead of their votes.

Obama seems to be taking that ad- vice. He has logged more rounds of golf (32) in his first 14 months than George W. Bush did in his two terms (24). A deeply committed Bush used to focus wholeheartedly on his swing. In fact, one could tell his passion (for golf) as he stopped to comment on the looming terrorism problem. “I call upon these nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killings. Thank you. Now watch this drive.” Reagan’s passion for golf trumped that of his love of Congress. He commented once, “My golf-loving friend Bob Hope asked me what my handicap was. So I told him- the Congress.”

Sadly, Ford should have taken Obama’s lead. “I know I’m getting better at golf because I’m hitting fewer spectators…either that, or fewer people are watching me play.” I think they are both true. But as far as presidential swingers go, oddly enough, the most avid White House golfer was Woodrow Wilson, who played twice as many rounds as Ike, which is hard to believe because Ike managed to squeeze in 800 rounds during his two years. There have been only three presidents since Taft — Hoover, Truman and Carter – who didn’t touch the game. JFK was rated the best presidential golfer, but only because of his graceful swing. As president, he rarely played the game, but mainly hit range balls on weekends to let off steam apparently.

It seems that golf provides relief for politicians with great responsibility, while still challenging their minds and bodies. But the way I look at it, golf teaches valuable lessons and offers priceless mea- sures of a man or woman’s character, which politics needs. Politics takes place on the golf course, but golf transcends politics. Maybe if they would play more golf, we’d know who has the character to run this country. So, as the election season looms, you politicians, get out there and play more golf.