President Obama made news for his golf habit again this week when NBC 4 New York reported that Obama couldn't get a tee time at Winged Foot or Trump National on Labor Day weekend.
The clubs apparently didn't want to inconvenience their members on a busy Saturday. So what exactly happens when the president plays your golf course?
When Obama wanted to play golf on Father’s Day back in 2012, Beverly Country Club in Chicago was the track of choice. The president was a better planner back then, working with friends who were members to give Beverly CC one week’s notice to set up the reservation. (It was his 100th round of golf as sitting president.)
The implications? Like any presidential appearance, little transparency was provided prior to the tee time.
“If you didn’t know he was playing, you wouldn’t have known until he showed up,” said John Varner, head professional at Beverly CC. According to Varner, only a handful of Beverly staff members knew of the tee time before that day.
“Through the age of social media, all it takes is one caddie to find out,” Varner said, so they tried to keep the plans quiet. It also doesn’t help that the president carries quite the posse.
“Once he was on site…there were Secret Service in some areas wanding people and patting them down before they entered certain areas,” Varner said.
A group of secret servicemen also followed Obama as he hit the fairways, creating an extended bubble of sorts, depending on his hooks or slices. No one was allowed to tee off for about 30 minutes prior to Obama’s group, though members of the private club were able to follow along directly after, as long as the president was out of considerable driving distance.
Thought it didn't require him to shut down the course that day, Varner noted that the president’s round drew quite the crowd. By the time Obama’s group was on 18, a large crowd of Beverly members had gathered to see him finish up. It made some good press for the club.
“Naturally, we’re on every news telecast that day from the local news stations to CNN and BBC…absolutely it can’t hurt,” Varner said.
As long as the club members remain content.
“Especially at a private club, there are Democrats and Republicans, so there are different views on a president playing at your facility," Varner said. "Some guys are going to be in favor for it and some people are going to be naturally on the other side of the fence.”
Would he do anything differently if Obama’s staff called for a tee time next weekend?
“I’ve gotta say ‘No comment’ on that one.”