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Sweet spot: Obama nears 200 days golfing, could reach 199 during Vineyard vacation

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White House,Golf,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Barack Obama,Bill Clinton,Hawaii,Massachusetts,George W. Bush

First duffer President Obama is nearing 200 days golfing during his presidency and could nearly make that mark during his upcoming 16-day vacation to the East Coast getaway of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., beginning Saturday.

According to sources who keep count of Obama’s golf outings, he has hit the greens on 183 days, the most recent last weekend when he took an expanded group out to celebrate his 53rd birthday.

On typical vacations, like those he has taken on the Vineyard or Hawaii, the president golfs an average of every other day, meaning he wouldn’t hit the 200 day mark this month.

But during his last trip to Hawaii, where he played on four different courses, he golfed several days in a row, so at least 199 is within reach.

Golf is the president’s prime vacation hobby. He usually has a morning workout, sometimes including basketball, then hits the links. Here’s how the Cape Cod Times put it this week: “This year will be the fifth installment of what could easily be called ‘As The President Golfs.’ ”

And Obama makes a day of it. His rounds can last up to six hours, even longer than former President Bill Clinton, who the press said dawdled and cheated while playing. Clinton and Obama’s style is a big shift from the speed golf former President George H.W. Bush played. He could finish 18 holes in 84 minutes.

While Obama is already being criticized for dropping everything to fly Air Force One up to the Vineyard as troubles continue in the Middle East, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and along the U.S.-Mexico border, others note that the presidency follows him wherever he goes and a different environment might recharge his batteries.

“Modern presidents have clearly discovered that frequent escapes offering absorbing activities and break from the daily schedule can still reset the body, clear the mind, and renew energy for the work ahead,” according to a spectacular new book about presidential vacations from the White House Historical Association.

Former Associated Press reporter Lawrence L. Knutson penned the massive, photo-filled book, which noted that several presidents have faced “grumbles” from the public and press. While some presidents, notably both Bushes and Ronald Reagan, had their own vacation homes to visit, Obama has faced criticism for borrowing lavish resort homes from supporters and party donors.

Still, notes Knutson’s book, “Away from the White House,” work is always just a phone call or door knock away.

“An urgent call can reach him as easily on a golf cart, a sailboat, or a mountain path as it can in the Oval Office,” he wrote.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.