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8 Past Presidents Who Loved to Golf

By    |   Monday, 20 November 2017 12:43 PM

Since the very beginning of the 20th century, golfing has become somewhat of a tradition for those living in the White House. Some presidents played to relax, while others used the green as a meeting room to address serious political issues.

"Golf has inspired presidents throughout history," United States Golf Association historian Mike Trostel told CNN in an article on the subject. "It's a game of integrity and presidents have seen golf as the sport of leaders."

While all but three of the presidents in the last 117 years played golf, there were some that enjoyed the game more than others.

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Here’s a look at eight past U.S. presidents who loved to play golf:

1. President William Howard Taft (1857-1930) According to The Golf Ball Factory, Taft was the first U.S. president to openly proclaim his love of golf.

While previous presidents may have kept their golf outings under wraps, Taft encouraged his campaign staff to share his love of the game and often played high-profile rounds with people like Alan Lard, the editor of American Golfer.

Trostel said Taft reportedly took up the sport because he was looking for an exercise that would suit his hefty frame. After his presidency, Taft served as an honorary chairman for the U.S Open.

2. President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) — Wilson was fanatical about golf, even though he wasn’t very good it, according to Golfweek.

Business Insider reports that he logged about 1,000 rounds during his eight years in office, but New York Times investigative reporter Don Van Natta says that number is more likely around 1,200 to 1,600 rounds.

Van Natta also says he didn’t play the game too well, but he played anyway because his doctor, who was also his playing partner, said he needed the exercise.

The Atlantic reported that Wilson even had black golf balls made so he could play in the winter snow.

3. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) — While the previous Roosevelt in office, Theodore, was secretive about his golf outings, Franklin D. Roosevelt is ranked fourth on the list of top golfing presidents by Golfweek.

Golf.com reported that his clubs are now housed at the FDR Museum in New York, and Golf Advisor adds that he was a club champion at Campobello Island Golf Club in New Brunswick, Canada, during his college years.

Roosevelt was forced to stop playing after contracting polio in his late 30s, but that didn’t stop him from funding dozens of municipal golf courses. The FDR Golf Club in Philadelphia is also named after this president.

4. President Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969) — Trostel told CNN that it was Eisenhower who really established golf as the sport of presidents, having playing 800 rounds during his eight years in office.

"He would practice every morning and had a putting green just outside his office where he would dictate to his secretary," Trostel said, adding that Eisenhower was also good friends with professional golfer Arnold Palmer.

Dr. Tony Parker, World Golf Hall of Fame & Museum historian, said that Eisenhower’s passion for golf was the best thing to ever happen to the game. He inspired national interest in the sport and, according to Golf Advisor, the number of golfers in America more than doubled during his tenure.

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5. President John F Kennedy (1917-1963) — President Kennedy could well have been America’s best presidential golfer, but after the criticism Eisenhower received for playing too often, Kennedy decided to scale back on his own game while in office. According to Business Insider, Kennedy played for the Harvard golf team, but Golf Advisor adds that a bad back and Addison's disease kept him from reaching his full potential.

Despite this, Trostel told CNN that Kennedy enjoyed a single-digit handicap.

6. President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) — Kennedy’s former VP used golf courses as a political boardroom of sorts when he came to office. According to Golf Advisor, he even used the golf course to secure the votes he needed to pass the Civil Right Act of 1964.

He didn’t like the game very much and his swing reportedly looked like he was trying to kill a rattlesnake, but Johnson understood that golf was a great activity for political negotiations.

7. President Bill Clinton (1946-) — In an article for Golf.com, Sports Illustrated senior writer Cameron Morfit calls Clinton an “unapologetic golf nut." In fact, Clinton enjoys the game so much that he re-installed Eisenhower’s putting green on the White House lawn after Nixon had it removed, according to CNN.

In 2012 he famously told Golf Digest: "Presidents need to rest their minds, not just their bodies.”

Now that his presidential duties are over, CNN reports that he hosts his own PGA Tour tournament in California, known as the Humana Challenge.

8. Barack Obama (1961-) —Although he played only 250 rounds during his time in office, according to Ranker, Obama was often criticized for his penchant for golf.

Although Morfit told Golf.com that Obama should be “less bashful of his love of the game," he did invite the world’s best golfer at the time (Rory McIlroy) to a White House dinner in 2012.

In December, just before the end of his term, Golf Digest reported that Obama lost $5 to comedian Bill Murray in a putting contest in the Oval Office during the shooting of a skit to raise awareness for the Affordable Care Act.

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Since the very beginning of the 20th century, golfing has become somewhat of a tradition for those living in the White House.
presidents, loved, golf, play
Monday, 20 November 2017 12:43 PM
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