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.