US & Canada

Obama says golf is only 'excuse to get outside'

President Barack Obama in a golf cart with friend Mike Ramos in December
Image caption Mr Obama said golf was "the only excuse I have to get outside for four hours at a stretch"

US President Barack Obama has said he enjoys golf in large part because a game is the only way he can escape outdoors for hours at a time.

He said he misses the trappings of ordinary life - weekend lie-ins, trips to the market and walks in the park.

"I just want to go through Central Park and watch folks passing by," he told Hearst newspapers. "I miss that."

Mr Obama's security bubble precludes much privacy and spontaneity. He recently announced a re-election bid.

"I miss being anonymous," he told Hearst Magazines' publishers and editors at the White House.

"I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket, squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks. I can't take a walk."

He said he loves his life at the White House but does not enjoy the "kabuki dance" of Washington DC partisan politics.

As to golf, Mr Obama rejected suggestions he is fanatical about the game, saying: "It's the only excuse I have to get outside for four hours at a stretch."

On Saturday, Mr Obama took a rare, unscheduled outing to the Lincoln Memorial near the White House, dashing up the steps to greet tourists, shake hands and talk about a budget agreement struck the night before with Republicans.