When being a bogey golfer becomes editorial fodder
January 9, 2015
At his current rate, President Obama may surpass 300 18-hole rounds of golf before he completes his second term.
I have no problem with that.
Not everyone shares my opinion, however, judging from the reactions to a recent bit of buffing-up given by the New York Times to the President’s golf game and his continuing addiction to the sport.
The Jan. 3 article by NYT reporter Michael S. Schmidt lightly discusses Mr. Obama’s short drives, his extra shots to make the green, and struggles with his putter once he made it onto the putting surfaces.
That’s not unusual for a bogey golfer, whether or not he’s the President.
Schmidt also contrasted former President Clinton’s golfing past, complete with press releases for good rounds and a very relaxed approach to both mulligans and scoring, to the relatively guarded commentary about the current incumbent’s style of play.
The dozens of rounds since Mr. Obama first took office appear to be helping, according to Schmidt’s piece. Recent stories seeped out about rounds in the low 80s, compared to the 90s and 100s that were occasionally mentioned.
Schmidt also quoted a golfer who plays with Mr. Obama in completing his piece, in which the golfer suggested a connection between the President’s golf game and his qualities as President: “He’s honest, he keeps his composure through terrible adversity, he’s unruffled, he smiles, and he doesn’t quit.”
Those concluding remarks were probably what sparked the newest round of punditry about the NYT article. An article in the Jan. 5 Washington Examiner quoted Geraldo Rivera’s charge that the piece was “a big, fat, wet kiss for the president.” A reporter for the Houston Chronicle asked if the article was “for real?”
Even Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, a liberal outfit, was reportedly dismissive of the piece.
I’m not sure what all the fuss was about. After all, this was an article in the New York Times. That paper has never been known for its hard-hitting approach to covering the Obama presidency, on or off the course.
I wasn’t all that bothered by the semi-fawning quote about the President from one of his golfing buddies, either. It’s not as if the President has been playing golf with Fox News’ Sean Hannity or talk radio’s Mark Levin, for whom any such favorable commentary about the President is rare to non-existent.
I think the best explanation for this mini-rhubarb over journalistic choices is that the story was published Jan. 3, at the end of the Christmas holiday period.
Slow news days seem to spur some folks to make more out of something than it is.
Lift, don’t clean, and be careful how you replace
A recent Ruling of the Day at the United States Golf Association website discussed a situation that can often come up when playing winter golf.
In wet conditions, it’s not unusual for mud to adhere to the golf ball. Under certain golf Rules, however, a player can lift the ball, without cleaning it, and replace it on the turf.
Many golfers don’t like to have the mud come between the club face and the ball at impact. The mud will not only spatter all over, but it can easily affect the flight of the ball.
According to the USGA, it’s okay to replace the ball on the spot from which it was lifted, with the mud rotated away from the likely club fact impact spot.
However, the muddy side should not be put underneath the ball when replaced. That would be akin to teeing up the ball on the fairway, and a therefore a violation of the Rules.