One Icon Meets Another

31st May 2017

Just a matter of months after leaving office as the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama – a keen golfer – paid a surprise visit to St. Andrews to experience the Old Course for the very first time.

It may have been early on a sunlit St. Andrews Friday morning in May, but once the word was out that US President Barack Obama was fulfilling a lifelong wish to play the town’s Old Course, there was still a substantial crowd of onlookers and well-wishers surrounding the iconic first tee, framed by the imposing structure of the R&A Clubhouse.

Dressed in a pale grey polo shirt, golf trousers and cap, the 44th President of the USA, a left-hander playing off a handicap he says is, ‘Somewhere in the mid teens,’ cracked a conservative drive off the iconic first tee, and by the time he reached the world-renowned Swilcan Bridge, the crowds had swelled to those in the order of the final day of the Dunhill Links Championship.

For eight years the most famous man on the planet, the 44th President appeared relaxed and carefree as he mingled with spectators lining the most famous golfing property in the world, and he vowed to be back in a country he said, “Has a great deal to offer the world, and not just golf.”

And after shaking hands on the world-famous 18th green at St. Andrews, the 55-year-old, who ceded office to another renowned golfing President, Donald J Trump in January this year vowed to return.

“I promise you I will be back because, unless it is raining and blustery, I will not feel I have got the full Scottish experience,” he said, having played in temperatures topping 30C, before being afforded the opportunity – albeit briefly – to hold the hallowed Claret Jug.

Obama was a guest in Scotland of the philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, who accompanied the immediate past-President around the Old Course, before delivering a keynote speech at a charity dinner in Edinburgh that evening.

St Andrews student Danielle Clark Bryan, 26, had heard of the visit on social media and said, “I was the first person to shake his hand.

“He came over and said, ‘How's everyone, let's shake some hands," I happened to be in his eyeline, adding, “You could hear him joking with his friends, it sounded like he was having a really good time.'