Mr Obama warned on Saturday that Iraq would be a "long-term project", and then immediately left for a two-week holiday at the Massachusetts resort of Martha's Vineyard.
Before departing Washington DC, Mr Obama told reporters that he was ready "to not have a suit on for a while".
Pictures of the president on the golf course triggered a scathing attack by Ted Cruz, the Republican senator for Texas and a standard bearer of the Tea Party right, who said he should "spend less time on the golf course and more time doing the job to which he was elected".
George W Bush was said to have given up playing golf in August 2003 after being told in the middle of a round that a lorry-bomb in Baghdad had killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN special representative, and 21 others.
He later said: "I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I think playing golf during a war sends the wrong signal."