Saturday, January 04, 2014

Sam Kass Joins President Obama For Last Hawaii Golf Game, Sets Personal Record For The Year

Kass chats with his boss on the 18th at Mid Pacific Country Club
Is the Golfer in Chief still kicking Kass after a lucky 13 games in one year?...
Honolulu, HI - Hours before he was scheduled to head home to Washington, DC, on Saturday, President Barack Obama played his ninth and last game of vacation golf on the championship Kaneohe Klipper course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii.  

Accompanied by Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy Sam Kass and White House aide Marvin Nicholson, the President arrived at 12:41 PM.  

The game was Kass' sixth with the President during the vacation, and his 13th game since Jan. 4, 2013:  One year ago today Kass was on the links with Mr. Obama at the Arnold Palmer Course--designed by the master himself--at the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore.   

The number of Presidential games in one calendar year is a personal record for Kass, who does triple duty as White House Assistant Chef and Let's Move! Executive Director.  While Nicholson, who schedules the President's trips, is the aide who plays most often with the President, Kass is the only Senior Policy Advisor who has spent so much time on the links with the Golfer in Chief.  Coincidentally, both are lefties. 

On Saturday, the President, Kass and Nicholson played the Base's seaside course under sunny skies for a little more than three hours, an unusually fast game for Mr. Obama.  He typically golfs at a leisurely pace, taking between five and six hours for 18 holes.  But the President was motorcading back to his rental home at 3:56 PM.

The lightning round was the 160th game of his Presidency and Mr. Obama's third game of 2014.  Kass joined the President as he anointed 2014 with his first game of the year on New Year's Day, a five-plus hour round at the swank members only Mid Pacific Country Club.  President Obama's games are typically off-limits to press, but the White House arranged a photo op on Mid Pac's 18th hole, because there's a public street that overlooks the greens.

Kass also joined the President for his first game of the vacation on Dec. 21 and again on Christmas Eve, both on the Kaneohe Klipper course.  On Dec. 26th Kass joined the President for 18 holes at the Ko'olau Golf Club, a public course, and on Dec. 30th they played at the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club, members only.   

In addition to Hawaii games, Kass has teed off with his boss on courses around Washington, DC, and during summer vacations on Martha's Vineyard (there were two games last summer for Kass).  

An elite athlete in high school and college, Kass was a baseball star, and is still in the kind of shape that allowed him to set hitting records that still stand at University of Chicago, a Division III school.  He told Obama Foodorama that he took up golf in the first term thanks to President Obama. 

Despite Kass' athletic prowess, the President, Kass admitted last Fall, routinely beats him on the links"It's not pretty," Kass said of being beaten by President Obama, who has a handicap estimated at 16 or 17.  Kass hasn't revealed his own. 

The White House never releases scores for the President's games, but did announce that Kass was in the winning foursome for the President's special birthday golf tournament on August 3rd, 2013, when he invited eleven players to kick off the festivities for his 52nd with 18 holes at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

The win earned Kass and his teammates a ride aboard Marine One to Camp David, where Mr. Obama's birthday party continued through the weekend at the secluded presidential retreat in the northern Maryland mountains.  The losers had to travel the long way, by van.

At Mid Pac, on the 18th
Testosterone on the links...
The President's golf outings are a diehard boys' club.  In 2013 he played every game but one with male aides, close friends, Cabinet Secretaries, one star comic (Larry David), global financiers, and foreign dignitaries--including his eighth vacation game on island on Jan. 2, where he took on New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, an equally avid golfer. 

Kass played in the President's single game of '13 that included a woman: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius joined the President's testosterone-fueled links action in May of '13 on the course at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.  Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was the fourth player. 

Kass was also part of the President's foursome that celebrated the end of the government shutdown last October 19th, playing with his boss on the course at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, two days after the government re-opened for business.  They did battle on the same course on Sept. 21st, too.

Ahead of his record-setting game with Kass on Saturday, the President had another rapid round of physical activity, taking an early morning hike with First Lady Michelle Obama on the Na Pohaku O Hauwahine trail, off Kapaa Quarry Road.  The outing on the tropical terrain lasted just about 15 minutes.  

The President is scheduled to depart Oahu from the military base at Pearl Harbor at 9:00 PM on Saturday for the overnight, eight-plus hour flight aboard Air Force One back to the freezing Washington, DC.  He will land early on Sunday morning, and has no public events scheduled for the day.

CLICK HERE for links to all Hawaii posts.  

*Pool photos/Reuters