5:32 pm Mar. 9, 20124
A gifted golf glove from Virginia's Republican governor Bob McDonnell to President Obama seems something of a backhand gesture to a president who has been criticized for how much time he's spent on the links, Time reports. The Romney campaign even has a website dedicated to how many holes this president has played during his administration.
Which is interesting, because George Romney may have played more holes than any sitting governor in American history.
Few governors have had the elder Romney's quick access to a golf course. At the time, Michigan had no governor's mansion, so Romney stayed at his Bloomfield Hills home, built at the edge of his country club.
Every morning, Romney woke before dawn and played a game called "compact golf": three balls on six holes, simulating a full round. However, the object of the game was not the fewest strokes, but the fastest time. (According to author Richard Ben Cramer, George H.W. Bush was also partial to this style of play, though not as frequently.)
Romney literally sprinted from hole to hole, rolling his clubs behind him, never stopping to observe his shot or take a stance—he simply charged the ball and thwacked it forward. Jules Witcover, who was one of several reporters and aides lucky enough to drag tail behind the governor in the predawn light, likened Romney's stroke (in his book The Year the Dream Died: Revisiting 1968 in America) to that of a man trying to kill a snake. By 1967, Romney bragged to LIFE magazine that he could play nine holes with four balls in an hour and fifteen minutes.
IT IS DIFFICULT TO CALCULATE THE EXACT NUMBER OF HOLES Romney played when he was governor.
"On snowy or rainy days, he occasionally shoots a few baskets in the church gym with his 14-year-old son Mitt," the Times reported on the morning of his 1962 gubernatorial announcement. There are a fair number of snowy and rainy days in Michigan's year.
And as a rising star in the Republican Party, Romney was often in Washington and on the road. By David Broder's count, Romney had traveled to 26 states and ten foreign countries between November 1964 and June 1966. On those mornings, his routine included distance running or brisk walks. For example, when he stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria, he'd walk a mile up Fifth Avenue and then back down Park.
But let's say he played a third of the year, 122 days, at 18 holes per day. That's 2,196. Multiplied by six years as governor, and that's 13,176 holes. That's a lot of golf.
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- George Romney almost got speaking lessons from George C. Scott