Saturday, August 03, 2013

President Obama Celebrates 52nd Birthday With Golf Tournament For Pals, Trip to Camp David

The winners on the greens are a team led by Let's Move! Executive Director Sam Kass...
Washington, DC--Ahead of celebrating his 52nd birthday with an overnight trip to Camp David on Sunday, President Barack Obama kicked off his weekend with a personal golf tournament on Saturday morning that stretched for more than seven hours on the championship course at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. 

President Obama invited a boys-only party of eleven intimates to celebrate the first birthday of his second term.  It included longtime friends from his boyhood in Hawaii, his college days in California, and his years in Chicago, as well as current and former aides, including Assistant Chef and Let's Move! Executive Director Sam Kass, left. 

The group divided into three foursomes following their early arrival at Andrews at 8:36 AM, where the competition between friends who have long golfed with Mr. Obama began under grey and drizzly skies.  

The President wore a white and green polo shirt and khakis as he played, and by afternoon it was intermittently hot and sunny.  Kass--who says he took up the game thanks to the President's influence--and his team emerged victorious, according to a White House official. 

Trumping the President on Kass' team were Wahid Hamid, a friend from the President's school years at Occidental College; Laurent  Delanney, CEO of ATP Europe; and former bodyman Reggie Love.  After years of service, Love left the White House in late 2011 to pursue an MBA, but has remained close to his old boss.  As is standard policy, the White House released no scores.

The prize for the winners: After golf, as the party shifted to Camp David, Kass and his team got to ride with the President aboard Marine One for the trip to the secluded retreat, while the losing players had to go the long way and travel by van.  The President and his helicopter party took off from Andrews shortly after 3:00 PM for the short flight to the woodsy Catoctin Mountains in northern Maryland.

The rest of the gang included Hawaii boyhood friends Greg Orme, Bobby Titcomb and Mike Ramos; Occidental College roommate Hasan Chandoo; Chicago pals Marty Nesbit and Dr. Eric Whitaker; and White House aide Marvin Nicholson.  All except Chandoo are frequent presidential golf partners, and also join Mr. Obama on vacations.

First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Camp David separately in the afternoon, the White House said.  There was no word on the First Daughters, though the President recently announced they are away at summer camp.  

Activities at Camp David include a basketball court for the hoops-loving President, a billiards room, a tennis court, a movie theater, a pool, a target range, and hiking trails. 

Monitoring terrorism...
Ahead of the early birthday celebration, the White House on Saturday said President Obama was briefed in the morning on a potential al-Qaida threat that led the State Department on Friday to issue a global travel warning to Americans, and order the Sunday closure of more than twenty embassies and consulates across the Muslim world.

"Before departing this morning, the President was updated on a potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula by Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco," a White House official said.  "He will continue to be updated through the weekend."

Officials have said little about how the President will actually celebrate his big day.  But on Saturday the White House blog posted a photo gallery with 52 images in honor of the President's birthday.  And Organizing for Action is currently running a birthday card fundraiser for the President, which simultaneously kicks off its "August Action" project.

The President got early birthday wishes on Wednesday from the House Democratic Caucus when he made a rare trip to Capitol Hill.  Led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Dems presented the President with a dark chocolate cake.  "Happy Birthday Mr. President" was written on top of a fondant plaque that featured the presidential seal.

"Wished President @BarackObama an early happy birthday in the most delicious way possible. #darkchocolate," Pelosi wrote with the photo on Twitter.

The 2012 Presidential birthday...
On his birthday in 2012, President Obama was in the midst of a heated re-election battle against GOP challenger Mitt Romney, and he also celebrated with golf in the DC area before making a quick trip to Camp David.  There, his activities included skeet shooting, leading the White House to release the now-famous "skeetgate" photo, above. The President later held birthday-themed campaign fundraisers, including one in Chicago at his Southside family home, raising millions for his coffers.

President Obama's landmark 50th birthday party in 2011 made the White House as hot as when the British tried to burn it, and the guest list included celebrity revelers--Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Chris Rock, Jay-Z, Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, Charles Barkley, Grant Hill, Whoopi Goldberg, Emmitt Smith, Steve Harvey, and actor Hill Harper.

The President is scheduled to return to the White House on Sunday at an unspecified time.  His schedule for the week ahead includes traveling to Arizona.

*Photos of the President by Pete Souza/White House; cake photo via Minority Leader Pelosi.  Souza's photo at top was taken not at Andrews but at the Vineyard Golf Club near Lobsterville Beach during his vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Aug. 27, 2009.  The President returns to the Vineyard at the end of this week.