After a Hawaii vacation packed with golf — including inviting the Malaysian prime minister off the course and kicking a wedding of two Army captains off the 16th hole at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course — President Obama finally invited the press pool onto the course for a photo op.
“After a long hold in the clubhouse during POTUS’ round at Mid-Pacific Country Club, pool was brought out for a photo op at the 18th green,” read the White House pool report. “Pool positioned behind a fence separating course from Kaelepulu Drive, a public street that runs adjacent to its eastern end.”
White House photographer Pete Souza was out on the course snapping photos, as well.
The action, per the White House pool report:
Just after 6pm POTUS and his party arrived near the green. POTUS was in a black polo, blue shorts and beige cap. We first heard him with some encouraging small talk with his partners. “That’s a great shot, Greg.” Later: “Great shot, Mike.”
POTUS lined up for a short chip shot for birdie just in front of the green. It looked pretty good, inspiring a tournament-like yell of “Get in the hole” from one of the onlookers, but ended just maybe a foot or so to the right.
POTUS walked up nearer to the pool and the crowd, but rather than make the easy put he picked up the ball. “They actually gave that to me!” he exclaimed, apparently having been offered a gimme by his partners and spared an easy put in front of the cameras. “That’s how you want to end, with a par.”
Pool was quickly wrangled back to the van even as POTUS began to approach crowd. “How’s it going guys?” he asked. “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.”
Obama’s golfing partners for most of his trip have been longtime friend Bobby Titcomb (arrested in a Honolulu prostitution sting operation a few years ago), old classmate Greg Orme (who was part of the “Choom Gang“), and Mike Ramos, another childhood friend and Obama bundler.
But Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razzak is catching flack back home for his golf outing with Obama — as his country suffers the worst flooding in decades, killing several people and causing some 100,000 to flee their homes.
From the Straits Times:
Mr Najib himself came under fire, however, when photos emerged of the Premier playing golf with Mr Obama in Hawaii, with Malaysians questioning why he was not at home to deal with the crisis in posts on his official Facebook page.
Critics have also charged his government with failing to respond quickly enough, with some lambasting the authorities for not declaring a state of emergency in the worst-hit regions.
“The PM needs time to take a break,” Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was quoted as saying by The New Straits Times.
“He has been working very hard so let’s be fair to him as a human being. Don’t worry, I’m in charge.”
— The Straits Times (@STcom) December 28, 2014