Biden hits the golf course for first time in presidency

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Joe Biden. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Joe Biden. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden played golf for the first time in his presidency on Saturday, hitting the fairways in his home city of Wilmington - and taking a page out of his golf-obsessed predecessor Donald Trump's book.

The Democrat's motorcade swept into the Wilmington Country Club for the unannounced outing around lunch time. Clearly surprised members of the private, upscale club paused between swings and putting to watch, some whipping out cellphones to film the spectacle.

Reporters travelling with Biden were unable to see the president actually playing, although he appeared to be with a group riding in a mini-motorcade of half a dozen golf carts across a wide grassy fairway.

The White House said Biden's playing partners were Ron Olivere, father-in-law of Biden's late son Beau, and senior advisor Steve Ricchetti.

This was not just the first time Biden has devoted a day to golf since taking over from Trump in January, but likely the first time many Americans realised that he plays at all.

Biden has kept his golfing skills largely quiet, in contrast to the openly boastful Trump, who not only played as often as possible while in the White House but owned the courses he used.

In fact, Biden is reputed to hit a mean golf ball. When he was vice president under Barack Obama, Golf Digest reported him to have an impressive six handicap, although some former Republican opponents have claimed the rating was inflated.

Biden's return to the game comes at the end of a hectic week in which he announced sanctions against Russia, met with Japan's prime minister at the White House, and caused controversy with a chaotic attempt to define his policy on accepting refugees to the United States.

But with coronavirus vaccine rollouts steaming ahead and a Pew poll giving him a 59 percent approval rating, Biden might have felt it was time to unwind.

Playing golf is a presidential tradition stretching back decades, making it the ultimate Washington power game.

Trump played no less than 300 times during his one term of four years - always at one of his own golf clubs - which was roughly double the rate at which his predecessor Obama played.

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