The former President has accepted an offer to become an honorary member of the club on the city’s South Side, which will allow him to play its Donald Ross course without having to pay an initiation fee or dues and be charged only when bringing guests. The club is located near where the Obamas maintain a Chicago residence.
Former President Barack Obama has accepted an offer to become an honorary member at Beverly Country Club on Chicago’s South Side, the Chicago Tribune reported, affording him the opportunity to play without having to pay an initiation fee or dues. He will be charged only when he brings guests, according to the Tribune.
Obama is already reportedly a member of at least three Washington, D.C.-area golf clubs, the Tribune reported, including Army Navy Country Club, Columbia Country Club and Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. And in January, Jim Crane, owner of baseball’s Houston Astros owner said both Obama and former President George W. Bush had joined Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Fla.
His new Chicago hangout will be “a perfect reflection of the former president,” the Tribune reported, because members refer to Beverly CC as “the United Nations” of golf clubs, a home to people of all ethnicities, races, faiths, political parties — and both sexes. Beverly CC’s membership includes multiple Nobel Prize recipients and politicians, including Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Chicago Alderman Ed Burke.
In addition, the Tribune reported, Beverly CC is “a true Chicago club,” with a location that’s just nine miles from Jackson Park, where the Obama Presidential Center will be constructed and where the new Jackson Park/South Shore project is planned that would combine two South Side municipal courses into a Tiger Woods-designed, top-caliber public course that could host a FedEx Cup playoff event on the PGA Tour.
Beverly CC has the same honorary-membership arrangement with Jack O’Callahan, who played for the Chicago Blackhawks hockey tem and helped the 1980 U.S. Olympic “Miracle on Ice” team win gold, the Tribune reported. And that association also helped Beverly attract current Blackhawk stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane as members.
“Every club develops a culture, and ours has accepted a celebrity presence,” Illinois Appellate Court Judge Terry Lavin, who joined Beverly in 1987, told the Tribune. “We’ve seen that if you pick the right people, they add value, versus being a distraction.”
When then-President Obama played Beverly’s course in 2012 with Head Professional John Varner and prominent Chicagoans Eric Whitaker and Marty Nesbitt, the Tribune reported, Secret Service personnel followed the group in carts and had a presence one to two holes ahead.
“[Obama] was cordial with everyone,” Varner said after the round. “We got some nice pictures and he was very accommodating.”
Beverly’s course is a tree-lined, Donald Ross design with a championship history, the Tribunenoted; Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus each won Western Opens there. And in country club circles, it’s just as well-known for being nondiscriminatory.
“You name it, we have it — Jews, blacks, Indians, Polish, Irish. Of course there are Irish,” joked Allison Davis, whose law firm hired Obama out of Harvard Law School in 1993.
Davis told the Tribunethat he was “terrified” when he became the club’s second African-American member in 1997: “I had no idea what to expect. But Beverly is an amazing place, and I have many wonderful friends there.”
Beverly is an excellent fit for Obama, Davis added, because of its diverse membership and proximity to Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhod, where the Obamas maintain a residence that they use when not living in their $8 million mansion in Washington.
Obama shoots in the 80s, Davis told the Tribune, and is unlike President Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, both of whom are reputed to take liberties with mulligans and scoring.
“He is serious,” Davis said. “He doesn’t fudge on his scores and doesn’t let you fudge. He’s scrupulous in terms of the game and the rules. He doesn’t want to delude himself.”
Davis said he has never bet on golf with Obama, but actor Anthony Anderson said last year on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” that he lost $300 to Obama after playing with him, Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul and Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, the Tribune reported.
“President Obama talked trash all day,” Anderson said on the show. “He’s a great golfer. Doesn’t hit the ball long off the tee, but he’s straight as an arrow. Played one ball the entire time, very consistent. He took $700 from Phelps, $600 from Chris Paul and $300 from me. I was like: ‘You’re the president. Can you take money from civilians?’”
Obama is a Nobel Prize laureate, the Tribune noted, and Beverly CC has two others among its membership: Eugene Fama won in 2013 for his work in economic sciences and Richard Thaler in 2017 for his contributions to behavioral economics. Both are professors at the University of Chicago.
Lavin said any number of topics get raised during rounds and club functions at Beverly CC.
“One thing you learn as a Democrat at a country club,” he said, “is that typically you don’t talk politics.”
That extends to the locker room, the Tribune reported, where Beverly’s newest member has requested locker 44.