Obama hits the golf links with New Zealand's Prime Minister

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 2, 2014 

President Barack Obama gained a new golfing partner on Thursday -- New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key.

Reporters accompanying the president got a rare glimpse of a golfing Obama as they were escorted to the second green of the Kaneohe Bay golf course.

Obama, Key, the prime minister's teen-aged son, Max, and White House aide Marvin Nicholson, pulled up in two golf carts with the president and the prime minister riding together. Obama, in a lavender golf shirt, khaki pants and khaki baseball cap, grabbed two clubs from his bag before striding toward the green. The group joked as they golfed and appeared to be playing a fairly casual round.

Obama initially putted from just off the green, announcing that he was opting to putt. When he left his ball well short of the flag, Obama second guessed himself: "I guess I should have chipped it after all."

Obama's second putt rolled close to the hole, and he opted for a gimme shot rather than putting for a third time.

Nicholson and Max Key appeared to be partners. When Max sank a putt, Obama joked, "He's doing it in front of the cameras, too." Obama told Max it was a good shot and gave him a high five.

The four continued to banter as they played, with Obama ribbing Nicholson when a putt went astray.

As the pool was led away from the green, Obama was joking with the prime minister about the challenge of beating the younger players in their group.

The New Zealand media has reported that Key has a home in Hawaii. The Sunday Star-Times reported in 2008 that he'd bought an apartment on the "swanky island of Maui" but wouldn't say what he'd paid for it.

"You can see the beach," he said of the spot.

The White House offered no details on the game, but said Obama had invited Key to play a round of golf. It said the two have "long discussed" a shared interest in the sport, and "enjoyed the opportunity to spend several hours together on the golf course."

The White House said the two have developed a close partnership, "which reflects the friendship and broad cooperation between the United States and New Zealand. While the two leaders are both enjoying some time off with their families and friends, they also reaffirmed our continued work together to deepen our trade relationship, enhance regional security, and support the democratic values that the United States and New Zealand share."

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