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‘President Obama is not the greatest of golfers, but can get to a 10 or 12 handicap with some work’

Dubai: Butch Harmon has not only helped nurture some of the greatest players in the history of golf, but he has also assisted the world’s most powerful men.

The veteran golf coach revealed to Gulf News in an exclusive telephone interview that he has played with and coached no fewer than five American presidents.

The current incumbent at the White House, Barack Obama, benefitedfrom his guidance earlier this year.

Asked how the president shaped up on the golf course, Harmon said: “The president is not the best of players; I would say he’s about an 18 handicap if I had to handicap him because he doesn’t play very much. But he’s very athletic and very competitive. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the president. He was a good student of the game. He was anxious to try and improve his swing and get me to show him some of the things that he was doing wrong. It was a wonderful experience.”

“I’ve had the opportunity to play with five presidents and it was a real joy to play with them,” he added. “I started at a young age with President [Dwight] Eisenhower, President [Richard] Nixon, President [Gerald] Ford and President George Bush Senior and then President Obama. I’ve had the opportunity to see some of the most powerful people in the world enjoy the game of golf.”

Harmon was too diplomatic to be drawn on who was the poorest performer on the course, but was quite happy to comment on who wielded a club with the greatest aplomb.

He said: “I am not going to say who was the worst, but the best one with the most negative personality was President Ford. He used to play the Bob Hope Classic and he drove the ball a long way. He would hit spectators and stuff, which anybody would do if they played in front of that many people. But I think he really had a good game. President Obama, when he gets out of office and has the opportunity to practice and not have all the pressure that he has on him, he could probably get down to around 10 or 12 handicap with some work.”