By Melissa Fares
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday took a break from preparing to take office to engage in a pastime beloved by presidents since Dwight Eisenhower: playing 18 holes of golf.
Trump, who made waves around the world this week with comments on nuclear arms and Middle East peace, was joined at a golf course he owns by Tiger Woods, a former world champion who is trying to make a comeback after chronic back problems and surgeries.
Two other players joined Trump and Woods at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach Florida. The names of the other two in Trump’s foursome were not provided.
There was no word on the score, but the Republican businessman from New York is no duffer. Golf Digest magazine expects he will be the best-ever Oval Office golfer when he takes office on Jan. 20, with a “low single-digit handicap.”
A passion for the sport is one thing that Trump, who owns golf courses around the world, shares with Democratic President Barack Obama.
Obama golfed most Saturdays during his eight years in office, most often with friends and aides on the modest but secure Joint Base Andrews course near Washington.
He has occasionally played with other leaders, politicians and celebrities on prestigious courses – including, in 2013, Tiger Woods – and has tried to pack in as many rounds as he can during vacation.
Since arriving in Hawaii a week ago, Obama has spent three days golfing, tipping his hat at the press during a photo op on the 18th hole at Kapolei Golf Club on Wednesday.
As of late October, Obama had played 320 rounds of golf in office, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, the unofficial statistician of the White House.
Trump has slammed Obama for spending so much time on the greens, telling a rally in Michigan last year that Obama “played more golf last year than Tiger Woods.”
Trump has said he likes to use golf for business, and has been critical of Obama for using his tee times for relaxation rather than deal-making.
“The beauty of golf is that you develop relationships, and you can make deals on a golf course,” Trump said in a September 2015 Golf Digest interview.
“You get to know people, you get to know them better on a golf course than anywhere else,” he said.
Woods is designing a golf course in Dubai at the Trump World Golf Club, which is being developed by Dubai-based DAMAC Properties.
The night before the match, Woods tweeted a shirtless seasonal photograph of himself, a post that went viral, with 30,000 likes and 22,000 retweets.
But there would be no photo op at the Trump-Woods game. News media traveling with the president-elect were kept off the grounds.
(Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson in Honololu; Writing by Roberta Rampton in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)