Obama on buddies' golf weekend on Florida's Atlantic coast

PALM CITY, Florida Sat Feb 16, 2013 11:04pm GMT

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about strengthening the economy for the middle class and measures to combat gun violence during a visit to Hyde Park Academy in Chicago, Illinois February 15, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about strengthening the economy for the middle class and measures to combat gun violence during a visit to Hyde Park Academy in Chicago, Illinois February 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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PALM CITY, Florida (Reuters) - It's a buddies' weekend of golf for President Barack Obama at a private resort along Florida's Atlantic coast.

The president played with some Democratic donors and got instructional tips on Saturday from one of pro golf's best instructors, Butch Harmon, during his mini-vacation from the White House. Harmon once helped golf star Tiger Woods work on his game.

With his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha away on a Colorado ski trip, Obama was in warmer climes after a week devoted to promoting the proposals he offered in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.

On a breezy day, Obama golfed at the Floridian Yacht and Golf Club that runs along the St. Lucie River. Harmon rode along with him for a few holes to provide tips, a White House aide said.

Obama was joined for his round by the resort owner, Jim Crane, who owns the Houston Astros baseball team and is a Democratic donor. Also playing was lawyer Tony Chase of Houston, who hosted a campaign fundraiser at his home for Obama last year.

Others who played in the presidential group were U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, close Chicago friend Eric Whitaker and utility executive Milton Carroll, who has donated to Obama's presidential campaigns.

The resort has a golf course designed by golf great Gary Player and later redesigned by Tom Fazio. The Floridian was purchased in 2010 by Crane, who was the host of Obama's visit.

The president was staying at one of the resort's cottages. He is to return to Washington on Monday, which is the Presidents Day holiday.

Before his visit with the president, Harmon told Tim Rosaforte, a Golf Channel analyst who writes for Golf Digest, that Obama had requested a lesson through an aide.

"I've played golf with Ike, Nixon, Ford and President Bush 41," Harmon told Rosaforte, referring to former Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush. "I never played with President (Bill) Clinton. I met him in the Oval Office. It'll be interesting. I know the president is a real keen golfer. I'm looking forward to it."

Like many of his predecessors, Obama is an avid golfer. He frequently tees up at the courses at Joint Base Andrews near Washington with a group of friends.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Will Dunham and Peter Cooney)

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