WASHINGTON – So much for overshadowing your rivals, Mr. President.
Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia didn't seem fazed by a rare congressional invitation to golf with President Barack Obama on Monday, making a hole-in-one on the par-3 11th hole. The ace helped lead Chambliss and GOP teammate Sen. Bob Corker or Tennessee to victory over the Democratic duo of Obama and Colorado Sen. Mark Udall on an outing meant to strengthen ties between the president and Congress.
Chambliss told reporters upon his triumphant return to Capitol Hill that ''everyone went crazy'' when he made the shot and there were high-fives all around. The president retrieved Chambliss' ball from the hole, while Corker took a picture.
''I told him since I made the hole-in-one, he ought to give us everything we want on entitlement reform,'' Chambliss said with a smile. That's Washington-speak for legislation to change benefits like Social Security and Medicare.
Obama took the senators to a favorite course at Maryland's Andrews Air Force Base, where he frequently plays on weekends with aides and friends. He once took along House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and has also included Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., but this was his first outing with any lawmaker in his second term.
The foursome played under overcast skies that seemed to threaten rain that never came. Their game was cut short on the 15th hole so the senators could get back for a vote to allow states to tax Internet sales. The casually dressed lawmakers had to rush in and shout their votes from the Senate's cloakroom since they did not have time to put on ties that are required in the chamber.
Corker said they agreed not to say much about what happened on the course, other than Chambliss' ace. ''We talked a little business but mostly enjoyed just being out there,'' Corker said.
The White House noted that the president was the weakest golfer in the group, with the highest handicap, and paired with fellow Democrat Udall, who had to the lowest handicap. All three of the senators were ranked among the top 40 on Golf Digest's 2011 list of ''Washington's Top 150 Golfers.''
Chambliss, who says he plays 30 to 40 times a year, said he made another hole-in-one more than 20 years ago, but ''this one's pretty special.'' He said he used a 5-iron and choked up on his club but couldn't tell if he had sunk it.
Once Chambliss confirmed it was in the hole, there were high-fives all around, he said. The players all signed the flag for him.
Chambliss, who plans to retire next year, said he will frame the ball and the flag. ''If my children want it one of these days, they can get it. Otherwise it will probably be in the nursing home with my wife and me,'' he said.