President Obama, left, smiles at Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as they play golf at Marine Corps Base Hawaii's Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course in Kaneohe, Hawaii on Dec. 24, 2014 (AP / Jacquelyn Martin)
HONOLULU — President Obama has generally refrained from mixing
business and pleasure on the golf course. On vacation here in Hawaii, he
has mostly hit the links with the same circle of longtime friends and White
House aides he usually pals around with. Until Wednesday, when a newbie joined the First Foursome — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The White House said Najib, along with aides Joe Paulsen and Mike Brush,
was playing with the president on the course at the Marine Corps base at
Kanehoe Bay. Turns out Najib was in town on his own getaway, and it is
not unprecedented for Obama to do a golf summit with a world leader.
Last year in Hawaii, he played with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.
(In 2011, Obama famously played a round with House Speaker John A. Boehner at Andrews Air Force Base that did not exactly lead to a good
working relationship off the course.)
Obama has established perhaps a better working relationship with Najib,
after making the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to Malaysia in nearly
half a century last spring. It was unlikely they discussed their foreign policy agendas on the course, however, but perhaps focusing instead on trying
to avoid the sand traps.
On the 18th hole, reporters were allowed onto the course briefly. Obama
missed a putt to the left off the hole, then tried to tap in but "picked the
ball up before it missed again," according to a pool report. Razak also
missed a second putt, but Obama consoled him with a pat on the shoulder.