LA QUINTA, Calif. – Before he went to the range to hit a couple of balls, before he had a newscaster friend take a look at his swing, before he left with a Sunday bag punctuated by a big, red Arkansas Razorback head cover, Bill Clinton held court at a Humana Challenge news conference Thursday and said he doesn’t play as much golf or saxophone as he’d like.
“I’m trying to get back into both this year,” the former president said.
Clinton, whose foundation is a Humana tournament partner and beneficiary, says he doesn’t play much golf, a little in the summer mainly. But he played twice the week after Christmas and 27 holes this week out here.
“That’s the most I’ve played in this concentrated amount of time in a long time,” he said.
Clinton, 67, played often after he left the White House in 1999. And he tried to get back into it after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery in 2004. But in 2010, the year he had a followup heart procedure, he got involved in the recovery effort after the Haiti earthquake and his hobbies took a backseat.
“It adversely affected my golf and my attempts to stay active in my thwarted saxophone career,” he said.
Clinton said he had a “pretty good round” Wednesday at Porcupine Creek Golf Club in Rancho Mirage, adding, “Everybody gets lucky once in a while.”
That was particularly true for one of his errant shots. He said he yanked a shot some 40 yards left on one hole, but the ball hit a mountain and bounced some 40 yards right, to the edge of the green.
Clinton also recounted a partial round he had with President Barack Obama about a year ago. By Clinton’s count, Obama shot his “lowest score by far” at Andrews Air Force base and was five shots ahead of Clinton after nine holes. Clinton said he cut the deficit to one stroke after the first three holes on the back nine. But then Obama left on 13, citing the need to deal with the inauguration and Congressional matters.
“So I accused him of fabricating the emergency exit,” Clinton cracked.
To hear Clinton, he seems to bring the best out in Obama’s game.
“He plays well when he plays with me,” he said.