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Private club: Obama spends 3rd straight day hidden on links

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Undeterred by complaints from the White House press corps about a lack of access, President Obama is spending President’s Day playing his third straight day of golf during a secluded guy’s weekend at an exclusive golf compound in Florida.

White House deputy press secretary Joshua Earnest said only that Mr. Obama’s golfing buddies Monday are Dr. Eric Whitaker, a friend from Chicago, Ron Kirk, the departing U.S. Trade Representative, and White House aide Marvin Nicholson.

The White House is so tight-lipped about the weekend, it won’t even say what brand of golf clubs the president is using while hitting the links. When the Washington Times asked, Mr. Earnest said only that he didn’t know and did not respond to a request that he try to find out.

Mr. Obama will return to Washington on Monday night.

Mr. Obama disappeared late Friday inside the gates of the Floridian Yacht and Golf Club in Palm City, Fla., a private golf and residential compound owned by Houston businessman and Obama donor Jim Crane. The White House press corps has not seen him all weekend — even for the customary quick photo-op.

Earlier this weekend, Tim Rosaforte, a writer with Golf Digest magazine, started tweeting and posting reports from inside the golf compound about Mr. Obama’s rounds with Tiger Woods and others, such as Butch Harmon, Mr. Woods’ former swing coach. But the White House reporters who had traveled to Florida were holed up each day in a van nearby with no access to either the golf course or the president all weekend.

Mr. Obama’s isolation prompted Ed Henry, the president of the White House Correspondent’s Association, to formally complain to the White House.

But Mr. Earnest said the White House never promised press access when it announced the trip and seemed to imply that the press corps should have known better than to expect any photo-ops or interaction with Mr. Obama.

The lack of access is “consistent with the press access offered for previous presidential golf outings,” Mr. Earnest said.

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About the Author

Susan Crabtree

Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at scrabtree@washingtontimes.com.

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