Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Presidency leaves John Key and Barack Obama below par

Barack Obama and John Key drive up to the green of the second hole at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course. Photo / AFP
Barack Obama and John Key drive up to the green of the second hole at the Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course. Photo / AFP

John Key and Barack Obama have something in common - their golf handicaps have both fallen since taking office.

Ahead of his 300th round of golf since becoming US President, Obama revealed today that his handicap is an "honest 13" - down from 17 when he first took office.

When Key became Prime Minister in 2008, his handicap was languishing in the mid-20s.

It is now at around 11, prompting the odd question about how he finds time for improving his golf game while running the country.

"What I've done is that I've traded a bit of time where I would have gone to the gym, and I've gone to the range," Key said today.

"So I don't get to the course every week, but I get to the range every week, and so I go and hit some balls.

"I think it's quite good for stress relief and a bit of fun."

Key - a member of the Royal Auckland, Omaha Beach, and Wairakei International clubs - revealed that he had received free golfing tuition from Golf Warehouse directors Rhys Bishop and David Thwaites.

But unlike Obama, he did not fit in a regular round of 18 holes.

"He plays every week," Key said.

"He's been to Butch Harmon, I know that, so he's got the best coach in America."

The two leaders played a round of golf in Hawaii in 2014 - a five-hour match which Key said was worth "a decade of bilaterals". But there was no winner - they played on the same team.

Obama was a "stickler for the rules", Key said.

"There has been notorious rumours about politicians and their ability to use their magic pen."

That could be a reference to presidential hopeful Donald Trump, another golfing fanatic, who claims a handicap of 4 but has never produced a signed card.

- NZ Herald

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