Popular Golfer Mickelson Says High Taxes Are Going to Force Him Into ‘Drastic Changes’

Phil Mickelson said he will make “drastic changes” because of federal and California state tax increases.

“It’s been an interesting offseason,” Mickelson said Sunday after the final round of the Humana Challenge. “And I’m going to have to make some drastic changes. I’m not going to jump the gun and do it right away, but I will be making some drastic changes.”

The 42-year-old golfer said he would talk in more detail about his plans – possibly moving away from California or even retiring from golf – before his hometown Farmers Insurance Open, the San Diego-area event that starts Thursday at Torrey Pines.

“I’m not sure what exactly, you know, I’m going to do yet,” Mickelson said. “I’ll probably talk about it more in depth next week. I’m not going to jump the gun, but there are going to be some. There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn’t work for me right now. So I’m going to have to make some changes.”

In November, California voters approved Proposition 30, the first statewide tax increase since 2004. Mickelson lives in Rancho Santa Fe.

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Birthday Golf for Obama

President Obama will spend his 51 birthday golfing. From the pool report:

President Obama kicked off the celebration of his birthday today by hitting the links.

POTUS motorcade departed the White House at 8:23 a.m. and arrived Andrews Air Force Base at 8:47 a.m.

No word yet on who is playing with the president.

According to CBS reporter Mark Knoller it’s Obama’s 104 round as president.

Things Get Worse and Obama Keeps Playing Golf

It is an unseasonably warm 65 degrees in the Washington area, and President Obama has bolted out of the White House to go golfing.

It’s his 30th time golfing this year and the 88th golf outing of his presidency.

He’s at the Andrews Air Force base course with one of his usual crew, White House trip director Martin Nicholson, as well as Marvin’s brother Walter and Reggie Love.

Love, who is Obama’s personal assistant – or “body man” – is not usually a golfing companion. So the outing may be a farewell gift to Reggie, who is leaving by the end of the year.

Obama’s golf game tees up image debate

By Alexander Bolton

President Barack Obama is facing the same dilemma several of his Republican predecessors faced during times of national crisis: whether to golf.

His love of the game is clear from his willingness to play over successive weekends, even in sweltering heat.

But he has come under criticism from Republicans — and some in the media — for playing the country-club sport while millions of gallons of oil spew into the Gulf of Mexico.

Obama has played at least seven times since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20, according to a compilation of media reports. He has reportedly golfed a total of 39 times since his inauguration, though some rounds came during vacations.

“Very seldom do people look at a president golfing with admiring eyes,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “Like [Sen.] John Kerry [D-Mass.] with windsurfing and Obama with golfing, there’s a feeling that it is an Ivy League, country-club activity.”

Obama’s golf game became a political issue this week when Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, called on the president to quit playing until oil stopped gushing into the Gulf.

A White House spokesman pointed out that the president, given the demands of an all-consuming job, deserved a little time to himself.

“I don’t think that there’s a person in this country that doesn’t think that their president ought to have a little time to clear his mind,” said Bill Burton.

Republicans used Kerry’s fondness for windsurfing to deadly political effect in 2004, when he was the Democratic presidential nominee. GOP strategists portrayed Kerry as a member of the elite and a politician who followed the prevailing political winds.

Some in the GOP have been leery of following Steele’s lead in criticizing Obama for how he spends his weekends. Sens. George LeMieux of Florida and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, two Republicans who have blasted Obama’s response to the spill, declined to take issue with his golfing during the crisis.

“He needs to be more focused on the Gulf of Mexico; it’s not just tar balls, it’s sheets of oil that have been washing ashore,” said LeMieux. “But I’ll leave the president’s personal time to him.”

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has likewise criticized the president’s handling of the Gulf disaster, saying he needs to have “a higher command-and-control operation.”

But Nelson said he is not concerned with how much time Obama plays golf.

Said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who frequently disagrees with Obama on policy matters: “It’s a low blow.”

Other Gulf Coast lawmakers, including Rep. Allen Boyd (D), who represents the Florida panhandle, and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), said the same.

Democrats were more outspoken about commanders in chief who golfed when Republicans controlled the White House, according to presidential historians.

GOP President Dwight Eisenhower loved golf so much that he made several trips to Augusta, Ga., site of the Masters Golf Tournament, where he had a house on the course.

“Eisenhower was criticized by Democrats who didn’t have a great deal to criticize him for as being asleep at the controls and spending too much time on the golf course,” said historian John Sayle Watterson, author of The Games Presidents Play: Sports and the Presidency.

Eisenhower’s golf habit led to a confrontation with Congress when his staff tried to trap and remove squirrels digging up a putting green on White House grounds.

Former Sen. Richard Neuberger, an Oregon Democrat, called on Eisenhower to leave the squirrels alone and helped set up a Save the White House Squirrels Fund. Eisenhower eventually backed down.

Former President Gerald Ford, another Republican, came under attack from Democrats and the media for taking a golfing trip to California at a time when the inflation rate was rapidly rising, threatening the economy.

“He was criticized for being away at a critical time,” said Watterson.

Former President John F. Kennedy and his aides were keenly aware of the public image golf projected. They used to joke about the amount of time Eisenhower spent on the links.

After Kennedy won the White House in 1960, he initially tried to keep his golf playing from the public eye.

Obama often plays at Andrews Air Force base, where public access is restricted. When he plays at other courses, he often deploys protective foursomes ahead of and behind his golfing party so bystanders have a tough time catching a glimpse of him mid-hack.

The president also holds his scorecards back from public scrutiny, perhaps fearful that an appalling score may raise questions about his prowess in other matters.

Obama was roundly mocked on the campaign trail in 2008 when he bowled an atrocious 37 out of a possible 300 while on the stump in Pennsylvania — though he did not finish the whole game.

Tim Joyce, a columnist for RealClearSports.com, said that sports can become a metaphor for a president’s governing style.

Former President Jimmy Carter’s reputation as a micro-manager was cemented after it emerged he had sign-off authority over who used the White House tennis courts.

Carter’s near-collapse from exhaustion during a Maryland 10K race became a troubling symbol of a presidency that seemed to be running out of steam.

Joyce noted that former President George H.W. Bush spent much of his presidency fighting the public perception that he was a pampered East Coast establishment elite.

To avoid fueling his country-club reputation, Bush would play tennis games at an indoor court in the Senate Hart Office Building, away from prying eyes and cameras.

Former President George W. Bush understood the potential public-relations fallout of playing golf during a time of national crisis. Bush said it would send the “wrong signal” to continue playing golf while American soldiers were fighting and dying in Iraq, and vowed not to.

He said he decided to quit after the bombing of United Nations headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003. But liberal critics shamed him when they found video of him on the green two months after making his promise.

But Bush seemed well aware of the sport’s image during a time of crisis.

“During the BP spill, it may have been wise to avoid a couple rounds here and there,” said Brinkley.

“Every elected official must be mindful of how things that seem a part of everyday life will be looked at differently during times of crisis,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, who ran for president in 2008.

G8: Obama interested in Huntsville’s golf courses

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan (top, R), Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (top, L), U.S. President Barack Obama (bottom, R), and French President Nicolas Sarkozy pose for a group picture after a working session with African outreach leaders during the G8 summit at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, Ontario, June 25, 2010 Read more: http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/06/25/g8-obama-interested-in-huntsvilles-golf-courses-clement/#ixzz0ryh3MxGH

When U.S. President Barack Obama stepped off his helicopter in Huntsville on Friday, the first thing he said was, “You’ve got a lot of golf courses here, don’t you?” Industry Minister Tony Clement told the National Post in an exclusive interview.

“I told him, ‘We would really recommend and love it if you could come back here with Michelle and the kids at some point — we think you’d really love it here,’” Minister Clement said on the sidewalk of Huntsville’s Main Street, in his home riding. “I think I’ve planted a seed in the President’s mind.”

Minister Clement said he personally welcomed each of the G8 leaders — with the exception of French President Nicolas Sarkozy — all of whom commented on the natural beauty of the region, which they observed during their airborne travels over cottage country.

The minister downplayed suggestions that Huntsville had grown sleepy in the face of a massive security presence.

“I was here on Monday and Tuesday, and the place was rockin’ — even before the leaders got here,” he said. “We figured as soon as the G20 was announced that a lot of the protests would happen in the city, and not up here. The very pleasant surprise is people are not afraid to come downtown, people are going on with their daily lives. They want to be part of the vibe.”

— Kathryn Blaze Carlson and Kenyon Wallace

For Obama, Golfing Is More Important Than The Presidency!

Jason Reed/Reuters President Obama spent two and a half hours on Tuesday at Mink Meadows Golf Club in Vineyard Haven, Mass.

By HELENE COOPER

OAK BLUFFS, Mass. — Bill Clinton was famous for the creative way he kept score. Both George Bushes would speed-golf through 18 holes as if they had to beat the clock, not the course.
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Jason Reed/Reuters

President Obama spent two and a half hours on Tuesday at Mink Meadows Golf Club in Vineyard Haven, Mass.

The latest on President Obama, the new administration and other news from Washington and around the nation. Join the discussion.

And President Obama?

Long, slow rounds. A lot of time hunting for balls in the woods. All dished up with a dollop of trash-talking.

The First Golfer brought his duffer’s game to Martha’s Vineyard this week. By Thursday, Mr. Obama had logged three golf games in four days, appearing at one island course after another. He spent five hours on Monday afternoon playing 18 holes at the Farm Neck Golf Club here, two and a half hours on Tuesday playing nine holes at Mink Meadows Golf Club in Vineyard Haven, and several hours playing Thursday afternoon at the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown.

While Mr. Obama has indulged in other vacation activities — he took his family bike riding Thursday morning, went to the beach on Wednesday and took his wife to dinner Tuesday night — golf has been the only recurring one.

So, clearly, the president likes to hit the links. But is he any good at it, especially compared with his predecessors?

“His golf games are long because he’s not very good,” said Don Van Natta Jr., a reporter for The New York Times who wrote “First Off the Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers and Cheaters From Taft to Bush” (PublicAffairs, 2003).

Unlike Mr. Clinton, who had a reputation for shaving strokes off his score, Mr. Obama “doesn’t fudge his scores,” Mr. Van Natta said, adding: “If he shoots an 11 on a hole, he will write down 11.” (Mr. Obama shoots in the 90s on a good day, Mr. Van Natta said.)

White House officials, trying to protect their boss from guffaws, refuse to divulge Mr. Obama’s scores. The president himself envelops his golf game in a cloak of secrecy. Unlike the drill with many of his predecessors, who allowed reporters to watch them play the first hole, and then return to the 18th to watch the grand finish, the White House press pool covering Mr. Obama is kept far away from the action.

“The verdant entry to the entry road to the entrance of the Vineyard Golf Club is as close as we get to Potus right now, colleagues,” Elizabeth Williamson of The Wall Street Journal wrote Thursday in the report on the president’s activities that she shared with other White House reporters.

(Much to the disappointment of the press corps, reports that there might be a vacation game with Tiger Woods look to be false.)

The official word on Thursday from the White House deputy spokesman, Bill Burton, was that Mr. Obama has been enjoying his golf game.

But some White House aides — who, to be fair, were not on the golf course with the president on Thursday — said that those who were there mentioned a lot of trash-talking coming from the First Mouth, despite his less-than-Masters-level play. Mr. Obama, whose first sports love is basketball, took up golf seriously in 1997, when he was in the Illinois State Senate. It has been a love affair ever since, and Mr. Obama is now the 15th of the last 18 presidents to play golf, Mr. Van Natta said. “The only nongolfers since Taft are Carter, Hoover and Truman,” he said.

Mr. Obama is notorious for dragging his staff members onto the golf course with him, including the White House trip director, Marvin Nicholson; the White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs; and Ben Finkenbinder, the baby-faced press aide who also happened to play golf at Macalester College in St. Paul, when he was studying there a mere two years ago. On Martha’s Vineyard this week, Mr. Obama was playing with Mssrs. Nicholson and Finkenbinder, along with the chief executive of UBS, Robert Wolf; and Eric Whitaker, a Chicago pal.

This is the first summer vacation that the Obama family has taken with the White House press pool on hand to chronicle Mr. Obama’s every move, and therefore, the first vacation providing an opportunity to get a handle on Mr. Obama’s golf scores. Alas, White House officials continued their veil of secrecy, and would not say. Which means he is probably still in the 90s, respectable for a weekend golfer.
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