Golfing with Obama, Republican senator scores hole-in-one

Mon May 6, 2013 8:04pm EDT
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By Roberta Rampton and Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama took his second-term "schmooze offensive" to the golf course on Monday, bonding in a bipartisan foursome as Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss hit a hole-in-one.

Obama, an avid golfer with a respectable 17 handicap, rarely takes politics to the greens, preferring instead to golf with friends and staffers far out of the sight of the reporters who travel with him.

But he invited Chambliss and two other senators to play the south course at the Andrews military base in suburban Washington, part of his effort to advance his second-term agenda by having better relationships with Congress. .

Chambliss hit a five iron 156 yards for a surprise hole in one on the 11th hole. The feat was the talk of Washington, but the Georgia Republican was modest about the shot.

"It was pretty special. The ball actually flew the route I wanted it to go," Chambliss told reporters back at the Senate, after the game was cut short after 15 holes due to a vote.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have a hole in one. Anyone who says having a hole-in-one is skill, they're living in another world," he said.

Obama paired up with Democrat Mark Udall of Colorado, the top-ranked golfer in Congress as measured by Golf Digest in 2011. The magazine estimated Udall's handicap at 2.

But the hole-in-one helped deliver the match to Chambliss and Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who has a 2.1 handicap.   Continued...

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) lines up his putt as he plays golf with U.S. President Barack Obama (R) at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland May 6, 2013. Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Mark Udall (D-COL) also played in the foursome. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque