Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Different Kind Of Slicing For Sam Kass

When the assistant chef golfs with his boss on Martha's Vineyard...who wins?
During more than two and a half years at the White House, assistant chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass has rarely appeared in photos with President Obama. In fact, there's not a single photo in the official White House Flickr of Kass with his boss. But during the Presidential vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Kass was photographed golfing with the President on Wednesday, Aug. 24th, at Mink Meadows Golf Club (above). Coincidentally, both are lefties, but are their skills on the greens equivalent?

The game on the nine-hole course in Vineyard Haven lasted about 2 1/2 hours, but the only photos of Kass that were snapped by pool photographers were rear views, and they give no indication of skill. President Obama's close Chicago friend and confidante, Dr. Eric Whitaker, and White House trip director Marvin Nicholson completed the foursome. Whitaker is at left in the photo at top.

Do knife and baseball skills translate to the links?
The President plays golf regularly, but Kass has been noted as part of a Presidential foursome only once before, in a game that was also at Mink Meadows, in August of 2009 (above). The chef might be as good with a 9 iron as he is with a knife: The architect of First Lady Obama's food policy was a baseball star in high school and college. Kass was wickedly hot with a bat, and held a handful of Illinois state high school and college hit records. He was actually so good that he aspired to join the Major Leagues before discovering his true calling, and said recently that being a pro player would be his "dream job" if he wasn't a chef. Golf Digest has estimated the President's handicap at 17, but no such estimate exists for Kass. (Above: The President, Kass and Nicholson during the 2009 golf outing)

Unfortunately, there's no way of knowing if Kass' sensational baseball swing translates to the links because the White House declined to say if anyone in the President's game was, er, slicing banana balls into the cabbage. And the President's pool, as is typical, was held far away from the action, so couldn't report details. For the record, Nicholson is a frequent golf companion for the President, as is Whitaker, when he's in Washington.

Related: The Obama Vineyard dining report is here. The President's 2011 Summer Reading List is here.

*AP photos