Forty-fourth president of the USA thrills fans with round in St Andrews during visit to Scotland
By Michael McEwan
HE may have racked up 306 rounds during his eight years in the White House but it seems that not even Barack Obama can resist the allure of St Andrews.
The 44th president of the United States of America, nicknamed the ‘Golfer in Chief’ by sections of the US media, made the most of a recent visit to Scotland by taking in a round on the Old Course.
President Obama, 55, headed straight for golf’s hometown after touching down in the home of golf ahead of attending a charity fundraiser in Edinburgh, hosted by Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter.
Huge crowds gathered as word spread of President Obama’s arrival at the course. He removed his cap and bowed to spectators after getting his drive safely away at the first.
He took time to shake hands and speak with fans all the way round and joked with them about the weather.
With temperatures unseasonably warm during his visit, President Obama was heard to tell onlookers: “I understand the weather is always like this in Scotland.”
He later added: “The Old Course is absolutely glorious. It has been a great thrill to be able to come and play here for the first time. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to St Andrews Links for hosting us.”
He also visited a snack van behind the tenth tee and was pictured sizing up a bottle of Irn Bru before having his photograph taken with the vendor.
St Andrews Links chief executive Euan Loudon presented President Obama with a Callaway Epic driver before his round and thanked him for joining the rich heritage of presidents to have visited the course.
Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush have both played there in recent times, whilst back in 1946, President Eisenhower famously skipped the first tee and headed to the second tee to help overcome his nerves.
“We were delighted to welcome President Obama to the home of golf and delighted to see his round being warmly welcomed and supported by his fellow golfers and thousands of local residents, who surrounded the 18th hole,” said Loudon. “It has been a glorious day, prompting truly remarkable scenes for the links and the town of St Andrews.
“We hope President Obama has had a memorable experience, like the thousands of golfers who visit us every year.”
The spectators drawn by President Obama’s visit are reckoned to be the biggest non-tournament crowd in St Andrews since Bobby Jones turned up at the Old Course unannounced in the 1930s.