President Obama and big names on the Vineyard

Harry Belafonte with his wife, Pam, on Martha’s Vineyard.
Harry Belafonte with his wife, Pam, on Martha’s Vineyard.
Peter Simon

If Sunday’s schedule is any indication, President Obama is going to start slow and ease off over the course of his eight-day Martha’s Vineyard vacation.

On his first full day on the island, Obama was in no hurry. Indeed, it was nearly noon before the president, “chief of stuff” Marvin Nicholson, White House chef Sam Kass, and 32 Advisors CEO Robert Wolf hit the links at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs.

We couldn’t see much from our vantage, but Obama had a tough time on the first hole, missing a makeable putt and reacting with a wince. (It didn’t help that he missed the next putt, too.)

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It was the foursome playing ahead of the president that we really wanted to watch, but security was so tight on the course that glimpsing “Curb Your Enthusiasm” curmudgeon Larry David, designer Kenneth Cole, filmmaker Peter Farrelly, and restaurateur Patrick Lyons was not easy.

After his golf game, which took nearly five hours to complete, the president returned to his rental in Chilmark before going out to dinner with the first lady to the Sweet Life
Cafe in Oak Bluffs, where the couple has dined during their three previous Vineyard vacations.

Residents so far seem generally ho-hum about the president’s visit, but many remain upset, or at least annoyed, about the home he’s renting on Snail Road. Because the four-bedroom residence sits close to South Road, the Secret Service has closed the road during his visit and is rerouting traffic.

“I think it’s unfortunate that he rented there,” said Phyllis Meras, 82, sitting outside Alley’s General Store selling copies of her book “In Every Season: Memories of Martha’s Vineyard.” “I would have thought he could have found something more secure off the road. I can’t imagine money was a problem.” (The White House hasn’t said what the first family is paying for the 5,000-square-foot house owned by Chicago-based summer resident David Schulte.)

Inconvenience aside, the president’s visit hasn’t changed much else on the island. The gang still gathered for the traditional Sunday morning softball game in Chilmark. (We saw author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz flash a little leather at first base.) David and several friends got together Saturday to watch the premiere of his new HBO movie, “Clear History,” including Lyons and his wife, Kristina, Red Sox vice chairman David Ginsberg, Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, architect Michael Barclay, and writer Alexandra Styron. And Monday, Harry Belafonte will be in Oak Bluffs for a private screening of “Sing Your Song,” a documentary about the silky-voiced “King of Calypso.”

Over the weekend, Belafonte, 86, and his wife, Pam, stopped into Peter and Ronni Simon’s Vineyard Haven gallery, and checked out Peter Simon’s portraits of reggae legend Bob Marley, who was a friend of Belfonte’s back in the day.