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Obama's off to putter away the weekend in Florida

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AFP | Getty Images
President Obama plays golf at the Mid Pacific Country Club in Kailua, Hawaii, during a Christmastime visit in 2010. Obama planned to polish his golf game over the President's Day weekend in Florida, reportedly playing and practicing on Saturday with Butch Harmon, who has coached top-ranked golfers Tiger Woods and Greg Norman.

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By The Associated Press
Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, 8:06 p.m.
 

PALM CITY, Fla. — Faced with a long weekend in an empty White House, President Obama figured he needed a getaway, too, so he put together a golf outing with some buddies.

Not at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland or at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, two Washington-area military posts where he's a regular on their courses.

Instead, he went south, to Florida, to spend the long President's Day weekend staying and playing at the Floridian, an exclusive and secluded yacht and golf club on the state's Treasure Coast. He arrived Friday night after a speech in Chicago and wasn't expected to be seen again in public — including by the members of the news media traveling with him — until he returns to Washington on Monday.

“At this time, there are no public events scheduled or plans for the president to leave the grounds of the golf club,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Saturday.

Call it a weekend with the boys, presidential style.

Eyebrows might have been raised at the thought of the president, any president, high-tailing it out of Washington, without his family, for some “me time” hundreds of miles away from the Oval Office. First lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha are on an annual ski vacation out West.

During the weekend, the president planned to practice his putting technique on the club's private, 18-hole course, which opened in 1996, according to golfnow.com, and is owned by Jim Crane, a Houston businessman who also owns Major League Baseball's Astros.

Crane has made political contributions to Republican and Democratic candidates, including $35,800 last year to a joint fundraising committee for Obama and the Democratic Party, and $2,300 to Obama in 2007, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Obama's longtime friend from Chicago, Eric Whitaker, joined him on the flight from Chicago to Florida.

America's presidents have been taking solo vacations for decades, according to Larry Knutson, a former White House reporter for The Associated Press who wrote a book about presidents and their vacations.

President Truman vacationed most often by himself in tropical Key West, Fla. Many aides, all men, accompanied him.

President Franklin Roosevelt often visited his cottage at Warm Springs, Ga., without his wife. He was there when he died in April 1945.

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