What if I told you Barack Obama told a 21 year-old Maryland student that he had ketchup on his face?
Sunday, I stumbled into being with the 44th president of the United States for two hours of his time.
This is my third year caddying at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland. It’s a great job to have as there is basically work every day and you have the flexibility to show up or not – a perfect job to match with an internship or school. Some say it’s the O.G. side hustle (not really, but roll with it).
I knew Sunday would be a busy day because of the nice weather. I got to the golf course at 7:15 a.m. and started my loop at 7:30. I carried two bags as per usual and finished around 11:30. Coming off the course I saw the place was packed. A great deal of the members wanted to play in the nice weather, so I knew I was going to caddy again.
After changing my shoes and socks in the caddie shack (not the movie), there was talk of former President Barack Obama playing a round at the course. Obama, a new member at Columbia, has already played a couple of times since being out of office. I’ve personally seen him once before at the course and said hello, but I never had a real conversation with him.
I ventured over to my boss to see what was going on after the golf staff pulled up three carts for Obama’s Secret Service protection crew. In the past, the veteran caddies went with President Obama to reward those who have been around the club for a long time. I noticed that there were only high school and college kids waiting for a loop, so consequently, a non-veteran was required in the group.
Once I got to where my boss was, I simply asked, “Whose going with 44?” He said back, “You, if you want. You’ve showed up a lot.” I said back, “Yeah, I’ll do it if he plays.” I then walked back to the caddy shack anxiously waiting to see if this was actually going to happen.
The course was jam packed and the current wait for the tee was around two hours. While waiting for the possible loop, it appeared as if Obama did not have time to sit around for his turn. I’m not sure of the exact details, but next thing you know the former president is on the tee. My boss says, “You’re up.” I walked over toward the first tee after grabbing a towel and saw Obama on the first tee box. He was playing with PTI host Tony Kornheiser, who would have been a star any other day of the week, but not that day.
When the round starts the caddie is about 40 yards in front of where the players are hitting. While standing there, I hear “Graham, ball!” in one of the most recognizable voices in the history of the United States. The former Mr. President needed another golf ball, and he needed it FROM ME. I grabbed a ball from one of the staffers’ bag, and ran up to the tee and tossed him the ball. Not to brag, but it may have been the best caddy delivery in the history of golf.
All of this is happening while probably 100 members are just watching him on the tee about to play. Obama’s first ball went into the trees out of play, but I pretended like I didn’t even see that. He hit again into the left rough and we were then off to play.
At one point, he drives up and says, “Graham, let me shake your hand.” What? My hand was not worthy of this moment. I gave the best hand shake I could, and said “Nice to meet you Mr. President,” which I never thought I would ever say. The dream of being a professional athlete is most likely gone for me, so I’d never win a championship and go to the White House, but that’s okay now.
He played decently, he kept the ball in play and made bogey or par. While on the course he was talking sports with Tony Kornheiser, I would talk with them sometimes, but I kept my space to never really intrude. They talked about how he liked Luka Doncic. I agreed and said he is good in the pick and roll which is important in the modern day NBA. He agreed. I was just talking hoops with the former president of the United States of America, no big deal.
The next highlight came on the eight tee box. There is a snack shack next to the eighth tee where members and caddies can get food and drinks. I got a hotdog and put ketchup on it (oh and I don’t care if you think that’s gross, ketchup is a great condiment!), but when I finished my hot dog with Obama, that’s when it happened. After I finished I told him the distance: 192 yards, playing 200. He said back, “Ok. Graham, you have ketchup on your face.” So yeah, I had ketchup on my face, looking a child in front of the former president of the United States, which in my honest opinion is not great.
After I got the ketchup off my face we finished the last two holes of the front nine and they were done for the day. Obama had something to go to and only had time for nine holes. I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t question it.
So I spent about two hours with the former president just by asking my boss. This will probably be the coolest thing I’ll ever do and it was just by asking a simple question. Regardless of your political views, Obama is an extremely nice and regular guy who is great to caddy for. It just stinks to peak at 21 years old, but that’s how it goes sometimes.