Politicos Face Off On The Green

President Obama and Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner will put their differences aside — at least for a round of golf this weekend. They'll be joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio Republican Governor John Kasich. Robert Siegel talks with Peter Finch, an editor at Golf Digest magazine, about how relationships can grow and deals can be made on the green.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Let the record show that when the most politically powerful foursome in America tees off on Saturday, they will not play the most notable round of golf in the Washington, D.C., area. Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, which is just beyond the District Line, is home to this year's U.S. Open, and on Saturday, it'll be time for round three.

But if most of the world's golf fans are following the likes of Bubba Watson and Angel Cabrera, only the foursome of Obama, Biden, Boehner and Kasich -Republican governor John Kasich of Ohio - will make the political columns.

Saturday is the round of the golf that the president famously invited his main GOP rival to play. And there is some hope that the country might get out of some of the thick rough we've been in if there's some good fellowship on the fairways.

Well, joining us now is Peter Finch, who's an editor at Golf Digest and who's in Knoxville, Tennessee. Hi.

Mr. PETER FINCH (Editor, Golf Digest): Hi.

SIEGEL: What do you think? Do people really do that much business on the golf course? Or are the compromises that are struck on the links more about Mulligans than about legislative markups?

Mr. FINCH: Oh, people do a lot of business on the golf course, absolutely. I mean, Mulligans are part of it, of course, and handicap negotiating is a big part of the first-tee ritual. But no, a lot, a lot of business goes on on the golf course.

SIEGEL: When, in the carts as you're driving down or as you're strolling along the fairway? Give us a good business conversation in golf.

Mr. FINCH: Really, it can take place at any time during a round of golf, though generally it's best not to have it start on the first tee. And I think it's important to remember, too, maybe it's not even the day that you played golf.

I mean, the amazing thing about golf is once you've played golf with somebody, your relationship has changed in a way. You've had that experience together, four hours or probably more, and I think it makes it much easier to approach somebody and to talk to them about things that you want to accomplish together after you've played that round.

SIEGEL: So, perhaps a Monday morning phone call: John, great round of golf. Look, about the trillion dollars...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FINCH: Exactly. There's almost a magical quality to playing a round of golf with somebody. I mean, I know a non-golfer that probably sounds crazy, but if you've played golf with somebody you don't know or somebody who you know but maybe not that well, or maybe it's a rival, you experience something most of the time that's unlike you experience in any other sport or any other activity that I'm familiar with.

SIEGEL: What advice do you have for this illustrious foursome on Saturday?

Mr. FINCH: We have a little piece on GolfDigest.com right now, one of the pieces of advice we suggest is don't play for money. They should play for office supplies yeah - because what a great thing for the - if the president and vice president won to be writing notes with...

SIEGEL: Congressional stationery.

Mr. FINCH: Congressional stationery, exactly, or vice versa, the House speaker leaving sticky notes from the Oval Office on his fridge.

SIEGEL: Is it a round of golf you would want to watch, or is it painful to watch four ordinary guys like us play a round of golf?

Mr. FINCH: Four ordinary guys, I would say, would be pretty painful, but these are not ordinary guys. So I would watch it. Our great golf writer Dan Jenkins(ph), I saw him quoted yesterday saying he would not watch four politicians do anything if it were in his own retina.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FINCH: But I would watch it.

SIEGEL: Well, Peter Finch, thanks for talking with us.

Mr. FINCH: My pleasure, yeah, it was great.

SIEGEL: Peter Finch, speaking to us from Knoxville, Tennessee. He is an editor at Golf Digest magazine.

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