Golf sets the pace for Obama's first days on vacation
CHILMARK, Mass. (AP) When President Barack Obama goes on vacation, he plays a lot of golf. And when he plays, he likes to hang out with big-name basketball players.
Five days into his family vacation on Martha's Vineyard, the president has spent four of them hitting the links. While the president rarely plays basketball anymore, he could put together a pretty strong pickup team with his golfing partners if he were so inclined.
In his first outing, Obama joined up with Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers. In the second round, it was Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, and in his third and fourth rounds, Obama's foursome included former all-stars Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen. The latter two were playing partners during last year's vacation as well.
The round with Curry makes good on Obama's promise of a rematch when the Warriors visited the White House in February to be honored for winning the 2015 NBA championship.
''I heard during this summer, after our golf game, that Steph was using the excuse of Secret Service being intimidating for why he lost the match,'' Obama said at the time. ''That is not the case. But he will have another opportunity.''
When Obama golfs, a handful of reporters, a camera team and photographers – known as the pool – are nearby, usually kept far enough away so the president doesn't see them, and vice versa. But the press was allowed to watch Obama on the first hole on the first day.
A skunk livened things up when it waddled by the press van on the second day of golf. No damage was done before it wandered over to an area where the Secret Service was checking cars for bombs before their drivers were allowed to enter the course's parking lot.
Many weekends in Washington, Obama also goes golfing, but generally on just one of the days.
On Martha's Vineyard, Obama also has gone out twice for dinner. In the town of Oak Bluffs, he dined Sunday evening at Down Island, a new, trendy restaurant that has a $59 prix fixe menu.
Executive Chef Scott Cummings told the Cape Cod Times the president shook hands with staff and posed for photos. The menu included island-caught striped bass, roasted carrots, octopus and chocolate pate. Obama tried all the dishes that were brought to him, Cummings said.
Hundreds lined the street hoping for a glimpse of the president and first lady, cheering enthusiastically as their motorcade sped away to drop them off on the other side of the island. It's friendly country for Democrats, though a couple of Trump supporters watched the motorcade Thursday behind a ''Trump'' sign.
The Clintons also frequented the vineyard during Bill Clinton's two terms, and the motorcade passed a permanent sign reading ''Hoo-rah for Bill.'' The sign was erected by the late Craig Kingsbury, an eccentric local who was the inspiration for Quint in the movie ''Jaws.'' Much of the movie was filmed on the island.
For their second dinner out, the Obamas headed back Tuesday to State Road restaurant in West Tisbury, which has become a yearly stop for them. Lobster salad, local greens, striped bass, monkfish, duck breast and cheeseburgers were on the menu.
The Obama's have vacationed every year but one on Martha's Vineyard. They generally keep a low profile, and indeed there were few people on the street in West Tisbury when they left the restaurant around 10:30 p.m.
On the day Obama didn't golf, he and the first family went to a private beach. The White House said Thursday he and daughter Malia also went for a walk in the morning on a trail near the house the Obamas are renting. The White House doesn't disclose exactly where he is staying, but he's in the same neighborhood of a home the Obamas stayed at in 2014 and 2015. One of the local papers, the Martha's Vineyard Times, describes the home as containing seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms, expansive views of Vineyard Sound, a swimming pool, a hot tub and a dual tennis-basketball court.
Obama has added a new event to this year's itinerary, a fundraiser Monday for the Democratic National Committee. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton will be on the island as well on August 20. Her campaign website stated that she'll be in Edgartown at the home of Carol and Frank Biondi, a former CEO for Viacom and Universal Studios. It's unclear for now whether the two politicians will spend any time together.
Sara Brown and Peter Brannen contributed to this report.