Monday, 23 January 2017

Despite Country Club Members’ Rift, Obama Gets an Invitation

WASHINGTON — For weeks, the members of an exclusive, mostly Jewish country club in the Maryland suburbs of Washington have been entangled in a bitter dispute over whether to exclude former President Barack Obama, who has played golf there, because of Mr. Obama’s policies toward Israel.

On Monday, the management of the club, Woodmont Country Club, sought to put an end to the rancor, sending a letter to members notifying them that it had invited Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, to join as “special members.” Under those terms, the former first couple would pay dues and other fees but would be spared the $80,000 initiation fee.

“In the current deeply polarized political environment,” the club’s president, Barry Forman, wrote, “it is all the more important that Woodmont be a place where people of varying views and beliefs can enjoy fellowship and recreation in a relaxed environment.”

As president, Mr. Obama played several rounds of golf at the club, which is off a dreary retail corridor in Rockville, Md., but is known for two highly rated 18-hole courses and a newly renovated clubhouse. Mr. Obama, who plans to live in Washington for a few more years, mused to friends that Woodmont might be a good club to hone his post-presidential game.

But he got caught up in the inflamed politics of the Middle East and the American Jewish community.


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