Obama had gone to Sunnylands to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan. He stayed behind with a gaggle of childhood friends to play golf on the desert property's 9-hole course and on a private, 19-hole course elsewhere in the city that is owned by supporter Larry Ellison, co-founder of the Oracle software company and one of the richest men in America.
Obama will have plenty of opportunities to play golf this weekend, too.
He checked his family into the Ocean Reef Club, a private, by-invitation-only membership club that is more of a gated, self-contained community sprawled across 2,500 acres on the northern edge of Key Largo. The property has two championship golf courses. There's also a swimming lagoon, tennis courts, a spa and fitness center, shopping and more than a dozen restaurants among the club's varied offerings.
Obama flew by helicopter from Miami over the sun-kissed, blue waters of Florida Bay to arrive at the club's private airport. Scores of people apparently had driven their golf carts over to witness the arrival.
The Republican National Committee used Obama's vacation to draw a contrast with Americans still grappling with a sluggish economy.
"While President Obama vacations in the Florida Keys and Vice President Biden is spending his weekend in the Virgin Islands, millions of middle-class Americans are hurting from their failed economic policies," RNC chairman Reince Priebus said.
The vacation is Obama's third of the year.
Before Sunnylands, Obama and his family followed tradition and spent Christmas and New Year's in Hawaii, where he was born. The president and his daughters returned to the White House on Jan. 5, but Mrs. Obama spent a third week on the island to begin celebrating her 50th birthday later that month.
The family will scatter in less than two weeks.
Mrs. Obama departs March 19 for a weeklong trip to China without the president, but accompanied by daughters Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12, and her mother, Marian Robinson. A few days after they leave, Obama will embark on a weeklong trip through the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Saudi Arabia.
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