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Crane honored to host Obama at golf course

President scheduled to play a round with Astros owner on Sunday in Florida

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Less than two weeks after playing nine holes of golf with legends Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus at a charity event, Astros owner Jim Crane is going to take some swings with a more powerful name.

Crane is hosting a vacationing President Barack Obama at his Floridian National Golf Club in Palm City, Fla., this weekend, and the two are scheduled to play a round together on Sunday. Crane welcomed the President to his club Friday night before addressing the Astros prior to Saturday's first full-squad workout.

"Looks like I might get to play with him a little bit tomorrow, and we're looking forward to that," Crane said Saturday morning. "He came in late last night and was very cordial. His staff is great and it's very exciting. I mean, when do you get the President staying in your place?"

President Obama, a left-handed golfer, is staying at Crane's club, which can sleep between 50-60 people, and Crane said it would be close to capacity Saturday night. He said the area where the President is staying will be kept private.

"We got a call a week or so ago and asked if we'd be receptive to having him there," Crane said. "And we said, 'Certainly, it would be an honor to have him there.' He showed up last night. He's going to play a little bit of golf and probably take a few lessons from [golf instructor] Butch [Harmon] and Claude [Harmon] and relax and take a few days off he probably deserves."

Crane, a scratch golfer, has never played with the President, but has met him on three occasions. Obama contacted Crane personally to thank him for letting him use his course.

"I got a call on the cell phone last week and [Obama] said, 'Hey, thanks for letting us come in,'" Crane said. "It's going to be a fun weekend. I hope he gets some rest and relaxes. It's kind of a quiet place, so hopefully he'll be able to do that."

Crane played with Palmer and Nicklaus at the Floridian about 10 days ago in a charity event that saw several big names take part. It was only last week Crane teamed with PGA pro Kevin Streelman to finish tied for third place at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in California.

"I've had a pretty big week the last couple of weeks," Crane said. "We had the big charity tournament down there and had a lot of legends down there and got to play with Arnie and Jack, and we made a little run at Pebble Beach and got on the leaderboard there toward the end last week.

"That's a lot of fun. You meet a lot of interesting people playing golf. I learned that when I was a kid caddying, and it hasn't changed as I have gotten older. It's a good place to relax and talk to people. When you're on the golf course, you have four hours, and you very rarely get that much time with anybody in a meeting or any business setting. It's just a great way to make friends and relax."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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