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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Seeking a Truce on the Links


President Obama has never seemed particularly perturbed by Republicans' attacks on the frequency of his golf outings. But for the golf industry, the politics of golf is not just a game.

“Please reconsider your political strategy of criticizing President Obama's passion for golf,” was the request in a letter to Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, from a group called We Are Golf that arrived in his office on Tuesday.

At the Republican National Convention, Mr. Rubio said that Mr. Obama was “a good husband and a good father and, thanks to lots of practice, a good golfer.”

“Our problem is not that he's a bad person,” Mr. Rubio said. “Our problem is that he's a bad president .”

We Are Golf was founded over three years ago and is backed by associations of players, golf course owners and managers. Dave Marin, a spokesman for the group, said that Mr. Rubio had been a “great supporter” of the golf industry, and that similar letters had gone out to members of both political parties, including Democrats who make fun of Speaker John A. Boehner's golf hobby.

“The golf industry is understandably sensitive to this line of politicking,” Mr. Marin said, “because it reinforces misperceptions of the game that don't square with the facts - and because those misperceptions, in turn, have led to unfair legislation and regulation.”

He pointed to the fact that commercial golf clubs, along with massage parlors, racetracks and liquor stores, were blocked from receiving some federal relief funds after Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Marin conceded that the request for a political détente might be “naïve.”

Indeed, Alex Conant, a spokesman for Mr. Rubio, suggested that the golf lobby might be a bit too earnest.

“There's nothing wrong with golf,” Mr. Conant said. “But there is something wrong with Washington lobbyists who can't take a joke.”