Does our president really play too much golf these days?
That's the question being debated lately after questions were raised about President Obama's commitment toward dealing with foreign policy problems in the Middle East and the Ukraine and racial tensions in Ferguson, Mo.
Obama was accused of being out of bounds for hitting the links after speaking to the media about the killing in Ferguson, Mo. and then playing again after ISIS terrorists beheaded journalist James Foley.
Former VP Dick Cheney (an avid hunter with lousy aim, not a golfer) took pot shots at Obama, stating: "Every day we find new evidence that he'd rather be on the golf course than he would be dealing with a crisis that's developing rapidly in the Middle East."
The parents of a slain Navy SEAL also weighed in, calling on Obama to resign because his "lack of leadership" has led to the rise of ISIS and the perception that America has grown weak. Critics complain that his playing golf shows that he doesn't take his job seriously enough.
"As you bumble about in your golf cart, slapping on a happy face and fist-pounding your buddies, your cowardly lack of leadership has left a gaping hole -- not only in America's security -- but the security of the entire globe. Your message has come across loud and clear, sir: You are not up to this job. You know it. We know it. The world knows it."
It's not the first time the president has been criticized for playing too much golf. He's played about 200 rounds since he took office. Some argue that it's not that he plays a lot (President Bush took a lot more time off the job), but it's when he chooses to do so.
Obama has plenty of company on the golf course. The PGA estimates that 28.7 million Americans played golf in 2013.
So in fairness to the president, it's easy to get addicted to golf.
First, you can always get better at it. So if you are one of those A types, you can spend decades trying to improve your game. Even if you're Rory McIlroy, there's always a part of your game you can refine.
Then, if you are like me and have limited skills, there's just the allure of being out on the course. Add a few beers and a few tokes to the fresh air and course scenery, and you can understand what so many people find so relaxing about playing a what's really a frustrating game.
And a round of golf is good exercise. If you walk, or even better carry your clubs, you can burn about 300 calories an hour.
The golf course has always been a great place to talk, close a deal, and learn about a person too.
Here's the true addiction: there's that one brilliant hit or 60-foot putt that keeps golfers daydreaming about playing while sitting through boring meetings or tedious work.
So the fact that Obama plays golf on stressful and relaxing days alike is not only understandable, but should be encouraged. The golf course is a place to be challenged and gain insight about yourself and others.
Going one step further, maybe the president should ask some regular Americans to play with him at times of crises. He'd get some valuable perspective on American life that's difficult to find within the walls of the White House.
Published in Context Florida on September 3, 2014
Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly's Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, N.Y. Column courtesy of Context Florida.