The President says he doesn’t cheat when playing golf. I believe him for the most part. While I doubt he plays by ALL the rules, I do believe that he doesn’t do anything blantant, primary for the reason that becomes clear in the transcript below. The clip is part of an interview with Grantland Editor Bill Simmons and the two apparently covered a wide range of sports topics.
Bill Simmons: Have you noticed that there is a notable difference in the way people defend you, since you became the president, when you’re playing?
Obama: No, because I’m always getting knocked around. I don’t know what people are talking about. Reggie Love, my former aide who played at Duke and he’s now getting his MBA, he answered anybody who said that people took it easy on me when they played with me. He said, nobody takes it easy on Obama because if he beats them, they won’t hear the end of it. [Laughter.] And it’s true. I will talk about folks just to make sure that they don’t take it easy on me.
BBS : What about when you’re playing golf? Do you get more four-foot putts given to you than maybe you did before?
Obama: I don’t take them.
BS: You don’t take them?
Obama: I am very proud of the fact I do not cheat when I’m playing golf. Anybody who plays with me, they’ll say I count my strokes. I count my strokes. I don’t — I’m not getting five-foot gimme putts.
BS: I guess you have to play it that way because then people could be, “I played with Obama” —
Obama: And he cheated.
Simmons: Yes, I saw him kick the ball out of the rough or something. [Laughter.]
Obama: Yes, yes.
Obama’s right. If someone caught him using foot wedges or taking mulligans, it likely would be all over the news.
Interestingly, however, Bill Clinton absolutely was known for taking liberties with the game, and people treated it for the most part as endearing. And when the Bushes played, it was an example of how these Republicans were out-of-touch country clubbers. Presidential golf seems to reflect the media zeitgeist on that particular White House occupant.