Did Obama’s Golf Games Count as Vacations?

When former President Barack Obama was in office, he was often criticized for his frequent golf trips away from the White House. While many assumed that these trips were vacations, they were technically counted as work days instead.

In this article, we'll discuss the status of Obama's golf games and why they were not considered vacation days. We'll also look at how presidents before and after Obama handled their leisure activities while in office to provide an overview of presidential recreation habits. Finally, we'll examine the impact of Obama's golfing on his presidency and explore some of the popular criticisms about it.

Obama's Golf Games

During his presidency, Barack Obama was known for his fondness of golf. While some people questioned whether his golf games could be counted as vacations, the answer ultimately depends on the context surrounding the games.

In this article, we will explore Obama's golf games during his time in office and the debate around whether or not they should have been counted as vacations.

How many golf games did Obama play?

During Barack Obama’s eight-year term, he played a total of 300 rounds of golf and was often criticized for spending too much time on the golf course. Of the 300 total rounds of golf, Obama spent 77 days out on the course throughout his two terms as President. This number is significantly lower than other former presidents in recent memory such as George W. Bush, who clocked in over 800 days while in office over a span of 8 years.

Obama's golf outings were counted as part of official presidential business which includes leisure activities such as playing basketball, hosting athletes at the White House, or attending sporting events with their families. During his presidency, it was estimated that President Obama incurred 718 vacation days throughout his two-term presidency. The 77 days spent on the golf course accounted for roughly 10% of those vacation days.

However, although some may have seen his outings to be excessive and unnecessary executive leisure time — especially when presidential memos warned against non-essential government travel due to budget sequestration — these outings did provide valuable respite from pressures in both domestic and foreign policy arenas amidst his second term in office to focus on building relationships with world leaders and friends.

Did Obama's golf games get counted as vacations?

Although former President Barack Obama received criticism from some quarters for his frequent golf outings while in office, his trips to the course were not counted as vacations. This was primarily because they lasted a relatively short period of time and the President stayed in Washington, DC when he played.

The White House defended Obama’s golf outings by pointing out that presidents of both parties have set aside time for recreation during their stay in the White House. Obama usually played golf with friends and family during his 168 trips to the course, but he also made work-related stops at times as well. On at least one occasion, he used one of his outings to meet with foreign dignitaries in a casual setting.

Obama's total is lower than that of President George W. Bush, who took approximately 200 trips to play golf while president between 2001 and 2009. He also traveled to places like Texas and Florida for vacation weekends during that same time period.

During the 2016 presidential campaign season, then-candidate Donald Trump accused Obama of using more vacation days than any other modern president—a claim debunked by Politifact and other reality checker sites due to lack of evidence. Despite all this, it appears Obama still managed to squeeze enough work into his golf games when necessary!


The Obama administration faced scrutiny for President Obama's golf outings from the media and political opponents. This article attempts to analyze the Obama Administration's claims that the golf trips did not count as vacations. In this analysis, we will look at the cost of the trips, the purpose of the trips, and the media's response to the outings.

How did the public perceive Obama's golf games?

During the Obama presidency, there was considerable debate surrounding the way in which President Obama's golfing trips were described by both himself and his aides. While some supporters argued that President Obama had earned the right to a vacation and was entitled to some leisure time away from Washington, others felt that it was wrong for him to be counted as taking personal trips during working hours.

The debate over President Obama's golfing outings reached its peak in 2014, when he played 173 rounds of golf during his time in office. This large amount of golfing activities led to criticism from many quarters, including from former presidential candidate Mitt Romney who characterized them as “vacations.” The criticism was not limited to Romney however, as many members of the public saw President Obama's holidays as an affront against hardworking citizens who had nowhere near the amount of luxury or leisure time afforded to him.

President Obama's aides counteracted many of these criticisms through a distinction between vacationing and recreational activities. They argued that when the president visited courses around the country it was more a method of relaxation rather than symbolism deigned to show off wealth or privilege. However, despite this defense some citizens still viewed his frequent visits away from Washington suspiciously.

Ultimately his time playing golf provided those critical of his policy agenda with effective ammunition for attacking all aspects of his administration, undermining certain aspects existing approval ratings and hindering priority political decisions in Congress.

How did Obama's golf games compare to other presidents?

While most presidents in recent history have used their time in office for vacations, Obama’s reliance on golfing has been much more heavily documented than that of his predecessors. Obama golfed 313 times over the course of his presidency, the title-holder of “most golfed president” by a wide margin. Obama was frequently criticized for his ability to make golf outings seem ubiquitous, but data indicates that Barack Obama spent significantly less time on vacation as compared to other U.S. presidents.

Of these 313 rounds, 286 counted as either taxpayer-funded trips or meetings with world leaders that included a round of golf. While this may not be necessarily viewed as “vacation” by certain people, it does illustrate the importance that President Obama felt the sport had for strengthening conversations and relationships with our allies and adversaries throughout the world.

Obama also utilized golf trips to support important causes and charities, doubling down on using these activities to build bridges and connections between different factions around the world. When compared to other presidents like Lyndon Johnson (336 vacations) or Ronald Reagan (335 vacations), President Obama’s ability to stay off vacation in favor of holding meetings and supporting causes remained consistent throughout his two terms in office.


In conclusion, it appears that many of the trips former President Obama and his family took were not counted as vacations on the official record. This was because many of these trips included official presidential duties such as attending conferences and fundraisers. Additionally, while Obama certainly enjoyed golfing while in office, his golf outings were apparently not counted as vacations since they were connected to business meetings or other official events that are listed separately on public records.

However, Obama and his family did take several vacation trips during his time in office, predominantly to areas such as Hawaii and Martha's Vineyard. For example, he visited Martha's Vineyard six times during his presidency.


In order to ascertain whether President Obama's golf games were counted as vacations, one must consider the cost analysis of his trips. The reports presented by White House aides indicate that the cost of Obama's golfing trips falls much lower than traditional vacations, given their vastly different flight paths and destinations.

Many people held a strong opinion regarding President Obama’s golfing activities during his presidency and questioned if those outings should be included in the official vacation costs. For comparison, some of his successors – especially former President Trump – received similar criticism for spending an average of 59 days annually at his luxury resorts.

In response to various inquiries into Obama's travel expenses and recreational activities, three organizations have published detailed reports on the cost of his travels (including golf trips). These organizations are: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Judicial Watch, and Associated Press News. All three sources found that the total cost of all Obama's golf outings was considerably lower than vacation costs incurred by previous presidents – including former President George W Bush ($17 million), Ronald Reagan ($453 thousand) and Bill Clinton ($1 million).

Overall, based on these three sources combined together it is concluded that Obama’s golf outings were not counted as vacations due to their low relative monetary cost compared to standard vacations taken by other presidents while in office.