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On vacation, Obama plays golf with his chef

A day after playing golf with the chairman of the UBS banking giant, President Barack Obama hit the links with an assistant White House chef during his Martha's Vineyard vacation. On one hole, a neighbor described Obama shooting — at best — a triple-bogey, or three over par.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A day after playing golf with the chairman of the UBS banking giant, President Barack Obama hit the links with an assistant White House chef during his Martha's Vineyard vacation.

That's not to say Sam Kass is an ordinary cook.

Kass is a former restaurant chef who has long cooked for the Obamas, preparing healthy meals for a busy family. And when the newly elected president and his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, moved from Chicago to Washington this past winter, they brought along Kass as an assistant to White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford.

Kass was in Tuesday's foursome at the Mink Meadows course in Vineyard Haven. He was joined by Michael Ruemmler of the White House advance team and perennial Obama playing partner Marvin Nicholson, once an Augusta National caddie who now works as White House trip director.

On Monday, Obama played a round at the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs with Nicholson, UBS Chief Executive Officer Robert Wolf and Eric Whitaker, a physician and another longtime friend from Chicago.

It doesn't sound like the duffer-in-chief is playing too well.

On the second hole, a neighbor described Obama shooting — at best — a triple-bogey, or three over par.

"He and his foursome were coming up the fairway and it must have been his — I don't know — second or third shot. All I heard him say was 'fore!' and he hit a tree, but he was not too far from the green," said Sally Fitzgerald, a year-round resident who lives next to the second hole.

President Barack Obama and his family will visit Martha's Vineyard while on vacation during the last week of August. Click through our slideshow and take visual tour of some of the island’s better-known draws.

"So, he chipped up — a pretty good chip, and then I think he had three putts to get in, but that's a tough green."

Later, as he was finishing up his 9-hole round, he left a putt short. It was close enough for him; the president picked it up as a gimme — a time-saving measure when the ball is close to the hole.

Golf carts for Secret ServiceAnd it's not as if the president's foursome required just two carts. With Secret Service and support staff watching every move and preparing for every contingency, Obama's public course in Vineyard Haven was almost paralyzed.

Ronnie Lytle, a local retiree who had come for an 8:20 a.m. tee time, didn't get to play because so many carts were being reserved for the president's party. She said she had a knee replacement and can't walk the course.

"I hope I didn't mess anyone's day up," Lytle said Obama told her.

"You did," she replied. "But I don't care."

Obamas everywhere you turnVisitors to Martha's Vineyard aren't likely to see the Obama family while they are on the island. Still, they're everywhere.

From cardboard cutouts on the porches of bed and breakfast inns to posters of a beaming first family in shop windows, the enthusiasm for the Obamas is clear. Ice cream flavors are named for the Obamas, T-shirts promote First Pooch Bo and homes are decorated with handmade signs welcoming the first family to the island.

Obama, however, is unlikely to venture much into public — partly because he wants his privacy and partly because of security concerns on an island that features tight streets and many visitors.

"Folks have been very warm in welcoming him," deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters. "He's been coming here for some 10 years now and he plans to come back. So hopefully, going forward, there will be some opportunities for him to be out in the public, but for right now he's just spending a little time with his family."

Cindy Sheehan pays a visit
One visitor Obama definitely plans to avoid: anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan. Remember her?

The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier dogged President George W. Bush during his summer vacations at his ranch near Crawford, Texas. With a new White House occupant, the activist is on the island to push the president to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"While Obama was golfing yesterday, four American soldiers died in Afghanistan," read a flier announcing a Thursday news conference. "There are no vacations for body bags."

During the Bush presidency, Sheehan and her corps of anti-war protesters lined up near Bush's ranch to protest the war and to honor the memory of her son. It eventually became something of a media circus.

Dinner with longtime friends
Obama and the first lady visited White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett later Tuesday and then accompanied her to a nearby restaurant. The Obamas' motorcade left their rented compound in Chilmark for Jarrett's nearby home in Oak Bluffs early Tuesday evening. Reporters traveling with the Obamas did not see the couple enter the home on the north shore of Martha's Vineyard. The Obamas then accompanied Jarrett and Eric Whitaker, another longtime Obama friend to a restaurant.

Jarrett is a friend to both Obamas and helped the first couple navigate politics in their shared hometown of Chicago. Whitaker is also from Chicago.