WASHINGTON — Senator Mark Udall joined President Obama for a round of golf Monday, hoping to help elevate the game of his former Democratic colleague both on the links and in the halls of Congress.
The Colorado Democrat played with Obama and two Republican senators, Bob Corker of Tennessee and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. On a cool, overcast afternoon, Udall wore a navy blue windbreaker, tan chinos, and dark shoes.
The foursome were scheduled to play 18 holes using carts. According to a pool report, they departed from the White House at 12:22 p.m. , teed off an hour later, and finished after 4:30 p.m.
Obama’s relations with members of Congress have been strained. Off the record, House Democrats have criticized the two-term president for neglecting to reach out to them. A conservative House Democrat said Obama’s relations with members are “awful”; a liberal House Democrat said he is “the non-LBJ,” referring to President Lyndon Johnson, whose skill at bending lawmakers to his will in the 1960s was legendary.
In recent months, Obama has worked on his “inside game” of appealing to lawmakers directly. He shared dinner with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and senators at the Jefferson Hotel downtown last month. His outing Monday marked the fourth time out of 120 he has played golf with lawmakers.
Obama’s strategy has not borne fruit yet. Last month, the Senate rejected the gun-control bills he implored Congress to approve. He has turned his sights to immigration, entitlement, and budget reform. “He’s willing to try anything,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday.
In reaching out to Udall, Obama played with the equivalent of a scratch golfer. Golf Digest ranked Udall as the best golfer in Congress, a lawmaker with a handicap of 2. (The magazine ranked Corker as the second best and Chambliss the seventh). Obama’s handicap was reputed to be 17. A golf reviewer said if their handicaps have not changed, Udall scores mostly in the 70s and low 80s while Obama might not break 100 often.