On Saturday, I ran into the President of the United States at a golf course. Twice. You know, no big deal or anything…
Before I get into that, let me just say that I never truly appreciated the awesomeness of the sport of golf until I had kids. It didn’t help that I was awful and would consistently hit the ball 60 yards into the woods. Furthermore, it was expensive, exhausting, and dragged on for six hours. SIX HOURS!
But in a world of diaper changes, spilled milk, and unwanted drawings on the kitchen table, golf represents freedom and tranquility – for six glorious hours.
Well, Saturday, my brother in law and I headed out to the Fort Belvoir Golf Course. The only time I had ever played there before, President Obama was there. So when we arrived and saw dozens of “golfers” with funky wires going into their ears, I already suspected he might be there again.
When we walked up to the starter, we were informed that the course was on “lockdown.” Nobody explained what that meant, but apparently everyone knew. I probably heard the word 30 times in the course of about four minutes. “Lockdown, lockdown.” That’s fun to say…
Anyway, we were told that we would not be able to start our round because, well, the course was on “lockdown.” Our choices were to go to the driving range, or hang out in the clubhouse. We opted for the range.
On our way over, the sheer number of secret service agents in the area multiplied. POTUS was near.
Then we were frisked. Now, in law school, I was taught to pretty much never consent to a search by law enforcement. But when a secret service agent with a wand stepped up and asked if she could search my bag, I said “sure.” Besides, something told me this search was not optional….
As I looked at the range, I noticed a group of tee boxes in the corner that was roped off. There were fancy pyramids of balls on every station in that area, and so naturally I got as close to them as I could. If the President wasn’t gonna show up, I figured I might be able to snag a few free range balls while noone was looking.
I grabbed a bucket of balls and started practicing. A few minutes later, I kid you not, I looked over and saw the President hitting a nine-iron. There was no Hail to the Chief played, no red carpets, no big announcement. I just hit a ball, looked to my left, and saw he was there. “Yep, that’s the President three tee boxes over.”
A few things I noticed while I pretended not to stare: he was wearing Chicago White Sox golf shoes (Go Nats!), he’s a lefty (which makes sense), and he’s very, very skinny (Michelle really is a health freak…). He only worked on his irons – which he hit quite well. Meanwhile, all I was pretty much hitting at this point was my driver. If it weren’t for this, and politics, we would have so much in common…
Anyway, after about 10 minutes, the President headed up to his cart. As he did so, he walked past me at no more than five yards away. I noticed everyone else on the range was staring, but no one said a word. Knowing this was my chance to interact with the most powerful man in the world, I yelled in his direction the only thing that came to mind: “HIT EM STRAIGHT, SIR!”
Note: I’ve often thought about what I would say to the President if I had the opportunity, and always figured it would be something profound and inspirational. Yet when it came down to it, I yelled something so unsophisticated you would think I was one of those idiots who screams “GET IN THE HOLE!” after every shot Tiger Woods takes. Nice.
Immediately, the President turned around and walked right up to me. With a surprisingly genuine tone and demeanor, he asked my name, we shook hands, and he thanked me for “all I do.” It was a questionably delicate handshake, but I think that mostly stems from the fact that he was wearing a golf glove…
Now, we live in a world where nothing like this is true unless there’s a picture on Instagram to prove it, but I didn’t feel like interrupting the President’s round of golf to do so. And even if I did, I’m not sure that there’s a wall in our house on which my wife (who makes a conservative like myself look like Arianna Huffington) would let it hang. So no, there’s no picture of this.
I have to say: the sincerity with which President Obama spoke and interacted with me was undeniable. It felt like we were just two guys on a golf course – only, surrounded by countless secret service agents. Heck, if there weren’t snipers with guns pointed directly at my chest, I may have given him a hug to consummate this newfound bro-mance.
And then he hopped in his golf cart and took off with his group. In case you’re wondering, the other people in the President’s group paid for themselves. I know this because they were in front of us when we paid. So, apparently, Executive Privilege doesn’t get you very far at the golf course.
Oddly enough, this whole interaction wasn’t even the highlight of my day…
On the 11th hole, I noticed more and more unmarked government cars pulling up. Looking around, I also saw more of those “golfers” with lots of stuff going on in their ears. As I approached the green, an agent with a wand walks out and frisks all of us, and then checks our bags. ***
*** At no point did he ask for my consent – the hallmark of an unconstitutional search!
Anyway, I’m about to putt and realize what all the fuss is about. Standing at about 350 yards back, I see President Obama and his group standing at the tee box. It suddenly hit me: the President of the United States was waiting for me. “In that case I’m sorry, Mr. President, but you’re gonna have to wait.” I took a few practice strokes as I soaked all this in, and revisited the greatest golf tip ever given:
And then I tapped it in.
It’s not everyday you see the President. But Saturday, on a golf course of all places, I ran into him twice. More importantly, I got to escape time-outs and endless requests for “more juice” and “new shoes” on a nice day… for six glorious hours.
Man do I love golf…