No. 1 Right-Wing Swinger: Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh, 59, hosts The Rush Limbaugh Show, the highest-rated talk-radio program in the United States.
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Golf-wise, you were a late bloomer, right?
Yeah, when I moved from Florida to New York in 1997, a lot of my friends down there played golf. So in order to hang around them, I took up the game. I was 46 years old, and that's when I really got into it and became obsessed, as most people who play the game are. I'm busier than I've ever been, so I don't play as often as I'd like. I probably get out three to four times per month, mostly on weekends.

Challenging isn't it?
Humbling is the word I'd use. I actually think they should make prisoners play this game. It can be that frustrating.

What about the game most appeals to you?
At first it was the camaraderie, being with friends, being out there for three or four hours and the adult beverages afterward. And it was something where you could actually measure improvement—or not—every day. For me, it was something I played against myself, just trying to get better. That's what was fascinating thing to me: trying to master something that wasn't possible to master.

Let me guess, you miss all your shots to the right?
Uh, yeah. People always think that they're the first to ever say that. So I just shoot back at them, "You're exactly right, because nothing good ever happens when you go left."

Okay, let's try something more original. Who would make a better president—Phil or Tiger?
Phil. I know a little bit about Phil's politics, and he interacts with his fans. Tiger doesn't. That's one of the problems Tiger's having now. Plus I think Tiger has no desire to have any political identity whatsoever, because whatever side he comes down on he pisses off half the country. That's not good if he wants everyone to buy Nike clubs and his other endorsements. It's like Michael Jordan. He's a Democrat, but if he came out and got publicly elected, he'd piss off half the buyers. Nike doesn't want that. I don't think running for office is anything Tiger would ever, ever fathom doing.

Why do you suppose so many Tour pros are Republicans? Is it simply because they don't like taxes?
No, I don't think it has so much to do with taxes or money. It has to do with how they earn their money—they're the only ones doing it. They can't depend on somebody else to earn it for them. I think it has do with self-reliance, entrepreneurism, and the fact that they're out there on your own. It perfectly aligns with [Republican ideals]: it's not a team game, the rules are the rules, you're accountable for yourself

You've played in many pro-ams in front of hundreds of fans. Do you get nervous?
No. Although the first time I played in a tournament like the Hope, yeah, I was nervous. In my first pro-am I played with Fuzzy Zoeller, and Fuzzy gave me some very good advice. He said, "You've got to understand something. Nobody in this gallery cares how you play. That's not what they want to see. They want to see you. They want to talk to you. They want you to sign some autographs, take some pictures. And, Rush, none of us give a s--- how you play. Don't put on pressure on yourself. Just go out and have fun."

That's easier said than done.
Yeah, despite that advice, you still want to look good and you can't help but think people are making snide comments about your swing or a shot you hit. But after a while I realized everything Fuzzy told me was true. The gallery was there just to watch the pros play well and to just see the celebrities. They actually delighted in duffers being duffers.

What's your golf highlight?
Playing with Arnold Palmer at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic my first year there. It was on the Palmer Course at PGA West, and I birdied the first hole with like a 40-foot downhill putt. The two shots prior to that were horrible. I barely cleared the water with my tee shot and the second shot was a low skimmer that ran to the back of the green. I made the putt and Arnold comes over and says, "I'm impressed!" [Laughs.]

Would you rather play a round without a driver or without your beloved cigars?
Are you kidding me? Without a driver. I smoke kick-ass strong cigars. I give them out to people. It loops them out, makes them dizzy. The cigar is part of the weaponry.

Do liberal fans ever razz you?
One time at the AT&T—I think I was at Spyglass or Poppy [Hills]—I was told after hitting a tee shot that they had to take some guy off the course [for heckling me]. I have no idea what he said, but remember, I'm [legally] deaf, so if I'm being razzed I probably won't hear it. [Laughs.] But that was the only time. At the Hope and the AT&T, the two pro-ams that I play in, I'm greeted with open arms. At the Hope, people actually put "WELCOME RUSH" signs on their roofs.

Do you talk politics on the course?
Sometimes I can't help it. Depending upon whom I'm playing with, I'll get asked political questions. I'll try to answer them as quickly and briefly as I can, and convey, "Look, I really don't want to work here today. I'm out here trying to have fun." Most people pick up on that. Most of the time I'm asked a political question is when I've hit the ball out of bounds off the tee and somebody's trying to distract me. Actually, I think they're being very nice. But the best thing about golf is it is a total escape. I think about nothing but golf. I don't have to try and block anything out. I am so focused and enjoying what I'm doing that I don't think about [work].

Would you play golf with Obama if he invited you out for a round?
It's funny that you ask that. There was a story on Page Six [of the New York Post] recently. It was the lead item. Zev Chafets, who wrote a book about me, last summer he said, I know [David] Axelrod [Obama's top adviser], and I want to ask him would you play golf with Obama? I said, "Of course. If any President calls me and asks to go play golf, I'd say, "Sure, I would." But I said, "Zev, it's never going to happen. It'll never happen." So Chafets calls Axelrod, but Axelrod wouldn't return any of his calls. So Chafets gets hold of a Democrat activist somewhere and two days later—and this is what appeared in Page Six—the activist says, Obama tells Limbaugh, "He can go play with himself."

What courses are on your bucket list?
Well, let's see, I've done Scotland, Ireland, Pebble, Cypress Point. I've played the Madison Club in Palm Springs, Wailea in Honolulu, Augusta, and many courses in Scottsdale, Montana, and Oregon. I took a trip with Tom Fazio last year to some of the courses he's designed. I've played Shooting Star up in Jackson Hole.

Not a bad lineup.
Not bad at all. I've played most anywhere that I'd like to play. I've been damn lucky.

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