The Presidents and Golf

The Presidents and Golf

The Presidents and Golf

Posted on November 09, 2016
The Presidents and Golf

Golf, a timeless sport, played around the world and enjoyed among people of all walks of life. Whether you’re an avid single digit handicapper, a weekend warrior, or beer guzzling hacker, golf has undeniably found its way into the hearts of many. Even the “Leaders of the Free World” have enjoyed our beloved game for the past 114 years (Dunleavy, GolfAdvisor).

Throughout the years, we have seen nearly every United States President pick up club and chase around that little white ball; some much better than others I may add. Let’s take a look in chronological order of notable individuals who have swung their way through their time at the White House.

The first United States President to pick up the sport was William Howard Taft (1909 – 1913). Taft was said to have been an avid golfer, and played out each hole till the very end. When the Connecticut Avenue Bridge was completed, there was probably no individual happier than Taft because it allowed him to get to the Chevy Chase Club quicker (Dunleavy, GolfAdvisor).  

Taft’s predecessor, Woodrow Wilson (1913 – 1921) followed in Taft’s footsteps and hit the links. Wilson logged more than a 1,000 rounds while he was in office (Dunleavy, GolfAdvisor).  The winter’s snow couldn’t stop this gentleman’s passion for the game, as he painted golf balls black so that they would be visible on the white ground… talk about dedication. Wilson rarely broke a 100 though, but no one can deny that anyone willing to bundle up and play in snow is worthy of mention.

The Second World War changed many lives across the globe. What many people don’t know is that Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 – 1945) was an avid golfer until he contracted polio at 39 years old. Sadly, many of us only know the president who was confined to a wheelchair, but when Roosevelt was in college he obtained the club championship at Campobello Island Golf Club in New Brunswick, Canada (Dunleavy, GolfAdvisor).  Roosevelt’s condition didn’t stop his love for the game, as he help to fund many golf orientated organizations which are still in existence today.

Dwight Eisenhower (1953 – 1961) was a man that was obsessed with the game! Eisenhower was the first to order the construction of a putting-green on the White House lawn. He also became friends with the late Arnold Palmer in his early years. It is said that Eisenhower left many cleat marks across the floor of the White House ( I’m sure that whoever had to buff out those floors wished that he would take them off after his afternoons on the putting green.

John F. Kennedy (1961 – 1963), a man that will be remembered for many reasons, was probably the best golfer of the Presidents thus far. Though his time in office was tragically cut short, Kennedy left an impact on the links with his fluid and powerful swing. If it weren’t for back related ailments and Addison’s disease, Kennedy could have possibly reached new heights as a golfer (Dunleavy, GolfAdvisor).

Did you know that Gerald Ford (1974 – 1977) was the first United States President to join the USGA? Ford also was an honorary chairman of the President Cup in 1994 (Dunleavy, GolfAdvisor). Ford won’t be remembered for his impeccable golf game, but rather his overall contributions to the sport.

George H.W. Bush (1989 – 1993) and his son George W. Bush (2001 – 2009) were destined to pick up the game of golf. George Herbert Walker, founder of the USGA was the grandfather of George H. W. Bush and great-grandfather of George W. Bush ( It’s all in the genes they say; passion that is, maybe not skill as I can attest to this theory.

Bill Clinton (1993 – 2001) has surely demonstrated his love for the game. With the help of the Clinton Foundation, Bill has left his legacy in the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge.

Barack Obama (2009 – 20017) is the first of the presidents to play the sport left handed. It is not uncommon to see Obama playing golf in shorts while at Kaneohe Klipper Marine Golf Course while vacationing here in Hawaii. Since he should have some downtime as he will soon rejoin the rest of society, perhaps we should extend an invitation to play Kahili Golf Course on his next venture to our beautiful state.

Of course, we cannot forget to mention, the 2017 President-elect, Donald J. Trump (2017 - ). Trump, an avid golfer, has many notable golf courses attached to his name. Trump has been a lifelong golfer, and will certainly swing way into the history books.

Arnold Palmer once said, “Success in this game depends less on strength of body than strength of mind and character.” Mr. Palmer couldn’t have said it better.  So get out and play golf, because at the end of the day all that matters is our love for that little white ball.

Author: Aaron C. Rego

Work Cited:
Dunleavy, Kevin. "Commanders in Golf: A Guide to the U.S. Presidents and Their Games." Golf Advisor.     N.p., 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.
"Top 10 Presidential Golfers." N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2016.