Facts are under assault in 2020.
We can't fight back misinformation about the election and COVID-19 without you. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact
I would like to contribute
David Dewhurst, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate, looks past other hopefuls from his party in an online video contrasting the state of the U.S. economy and -- fore! -- Barack Obama’s enjoyment of golf.
The video from the Texas lieutenant governor shows Obama golfing or riding a golf cart along with snippets of others speaking about the nation’s economic troubles. The advertisement’s money moment, though, lies in these claims that appear in red letters next to video of Obama, in shorts, golfing: "6.4 million more Americans living in poverty under President Obama" and "over 90 rounds of golf."
We’re separately analyzing Dewhurst’s charge about American poverty. But is he right that Obama has played over 90 rounds of golf, meaning as many as 1,620 holes?
Many presidents have played golf, including 15 of the 18 presidents before Obama, according to a January 2009 Golf Digest article,The magazine ranked John F. Kennedy as the best previous presidential golfer, and his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, as second-best; Eisenhower, the article says, had a putting green outside the Oval Office.
As Dewhurst’s backup for the Obama claim, his campaign pointed us to a January 2012 Washington Post blog post noting that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney had bemoaned Obama’s "90 rounds" at the Jan. 23, 2012, GOP presidential debate in Tampa. According to the debate transcript, Romney said: "We have to have a president who understands how to get an economy going again. He does not. He plays 90 rounds of golf when you have 25 million people out of work." He later brought up the 90 rounds again at a Michigan campaign event, according to a Feb. 14, 2012, article in the Detroit News.
Dewhurst spokesman Matt Hirsch also offered as backup a Dec. 27, 2011, blog post by Tina Korbe on the Hot Air website, which describes itself as "the leading conservative blog for breaking news and commentary covering the Republican primary, the 2012 election, politics, media, and culture." Korbe’s post states, in part: "Not only did Barack Obama golf on Christmas day, but he hit the links yesterday, too — and that round marked the 90th of his presidency."
Korbe’s post linked to a Dec. 26, 2011, blog post by White House correspondent Keith Koffler, whose website is WhiteHouseDossier.com. Koffler’s post said: "After an hour of hiking, President Obama Monday got down to the serious business at hand, heading out to golf for the second day in his first three days of vacation. He was back on the course at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. With this one, Obama reaches a new milestone, having gone golfing 90 times in less than three years as president." His summary also says that this was "the 32nd time he’s been on the links this year, a record for the president. His 32 outings eclipses the 2010 mark of 30 and is far ahead of his 2009 tally of 28 rounds as president."
By email, we asked Koffler about those figures. He replied that as of April 4, 2012, the president had taken in 93 golf outings, counting one in 2012 and 34 in 2011.
We wondered how the frequency of Obama’s golf outings compared to such expeditions by other presidents. Koffler replied: "I don't have a comparison to other presidents, though (George W.) Bush stopped in 2003."
Bush said in a May 2008 interview with Politico and Yahoo News that he decided to forgo golf after the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq and the organization’s high commissioner for human rights. "I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life," Bush said, according to Politico. "I was playing golf — I think I was in Central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, ‘It's just not worth it any more to do.’"
We didn’t immediately hear back from the White House about how often Obama has gone golfing.
Separately, CBS News White House reporter Mark Knoller, who tracks each president’s activities, responded to our inquiry by pointing out that he said on Twitter April 2, 2012, that Obama had just played his first round of golf of the year, spending five hours on a course the day before. Knoller told us by email that the round was Obama’s 93rd as president.
We rate Dewhurst’s claim as True.
Mark Knoller, Twitter post on President Obama’s golf outing, April 2, 2012
Politico, news article, "Bush warns of Iraq disaster," May 13, 2008
White House Dossier, news blog post, "Obama golfs for the 90th time as president," Dec. 26, 2011
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.