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Barack Obama's golf score N/A; but the course crowd gives him a 10

December 30, 2008 | 12:51 am

President-elect Barack Obama obviously chafes under the constant gaze of the "protective pool," the gaggle of media representatives allowed to follow his every move almost everywhere just in case, well, you can guess.

The other day after a representative told reporters Obama was back in his Hawaii vacation home for the day, reporters dispersed. Soon after, so did the president-elect and his daughters to a marine park.

It's, frankly, not the greatest duty for media folks either. You can spend seven hours waiting in a hot van outside a house party and never see anything the officeholder is doing. Nothing to show for a day's "work." Some of these public officials send food and drinks out; some don't. Some will pause to feed the pool a sound bite. Over time, the public officials learn that, even when on one last R&R before an inauguration, good press can come from letting the media see them candidly in interaction with citizens.

Here's an example from Monday's protective pool report of Obama's third round of vacation golf, when he unexpectedly took some time off from his time off:

"At 5:37 p.m. the pool could see Obama get out of his golf cart and approach his ball located in the middle of the fairway on the 414 yard, par 4, 18th hole.  He took three practice swings before centering the ball and hitting a shot that flew low and straight for about 75 yards before landing at the front, center-edge of the green. 

"More than 100 people sitting on a rock wall along the fairway applauded as Obama approached and he put his gloved right hand to his mouth to signal for quiet, pointing to another member of his group who was getting ready to shoot. As he got close to his ball, (Obama) turned to the crowd and said, 'Hey guys. That was pretty good right?  That almost made up for my 20 yard drive.'

Barack Obama golfing in Hawaii

That drew applause and laughter and prompted one member of the crowd to shout, 'Better than your bowling.'

"Obama replied, 'That’s right,' and smiled and laughed before turning back to walk toward the green to size up his putt. Obama lined up his putt then tapped the ball about a dozen feet before it stopped within a foot of the cup. The crowd applauded and Obama turned to them, put his hand above the bill of his baseball cap, and bowed.

"He then approached the crowd, flanked by Secret Service agents and started to shake hands and exchange greetings at the end of the wall farthest from the cup. As he reached the middle of the rock wall, a young girl wearing a white T-shirt took his right hand. “Hey there, how are you?” Obama asked.

"As he turned to keep moving, the little girl refused to let go of his right hand, prompting the President-elect to pick her up and give her a hug while her mother snapped a picture. “Thank you so much,” the girl’s mother said.

"One couple mentioned they were from Michigan. 'You guys from Michigan?' Obama asked.

"As he worked the line, shaking hands and smiling, one woman said, 'We’re so glad you won, now we don’t have too move to Canada. We love you.'

"'Thanks so much guys,' said Obama.

"As he got to the last batch of fans sitting on the end of the rock wall closest to the cup, a man handed Obama a copy of his book, 'Dreams of my Father' and asked for an autograph. Obama took the book and glanced down the line of people and said, 'You see all these people? If they see me signing, I’ll be late for my wife and then I’ll be in trouble.'

"Obama signed the book and handed it back to the man.

"Obama gave the crowd one final wave and then walked off the green toward his black SUV. --Peter Boylan, The Honolulu Advertiser."

--Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: HawaiiPanorama