Golfer in Chiefs: Donald Trump and other presidents who loved the game

Golfer in Chiefs: Donald Trump and other presidents who loved the game

Golf

Golfer in Chiefs: Donald Trump and other presidents who loved the game

Donald Trump will be sworn in Friday as the 45th President of the United States. With that, he will become yet another president who has a history with golf, whether playing it or in some other fashion.

However, it can be argued that Trump’s connection with the game trumps (see what we did there?) any Commander in Chief before him.

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During last November’s Presidential Election, we got to thinking: Which presidents were the best golfers?

But rather than ranking the skill levels of our Commander in Chiefs, we decided to come up with a few stories and fun facts that describe the relationship between the presidents and the game of golf.

From Dwight Eisenhower playing 800 rounds in eight years to John F. Kennedy nearly making a hole-in-one at Cypress Point, here are some of the best presidential golf tidbits:

• • •

Calvin Coolidge

Coolidge played golf, but not very well. In fact, it is said that the only thing Coolidge left behind in the White House after his presidency ended was his bag of golf clubs.

• • •

Gerald Ford

Ford was a much better golfer than most people have been led to believe. He regularly broke 90. Ford was the first president to join the U.S. Golf Association and was honorary chairman of the first Presidents Cup, in 1994. One cool Ford golf story: After he pardoned Richard Nixon, the first thing he did was go to the opening of the World Golf Hall of Fame and play a round with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player.

• • •

John F. Kennedy

Like Eisenhower, Kennedy played most of his golf at Burning Tree Cub in the Washington D.C. area. And despite criticizing Ike for his frequent golf, calling him the “Duffer in Chief,” Kennedy played enough to be a single-digit handicap. He was also a member of the Harvard golf team. Before JFK became president, he once nearly aced the 16th hole at Cypress Point, his 5-iron shot hitting the flagstick and ended up inches from the hole.

• • •

Ronald Reagan

Reagan wasn’t an avid golfer, though some say he had a good swing and could break triple-digits. During a Reagan round at Augusta National in October 1983, an armed gunman drove his truck through an entrance gate and took five hostages in the club’s pro shop, demanding to speak to Reagan. Two hours later, the man was arrested. No one was hurt and the man ended up serving three years in prison.

• • •

Warren Harding

Harding was a high-handicapper, but TPC Harding Park in Lake Merced, Calif., near San Francisco, was named after him.

• • •

Lyndon B. Johnson

According to his biographies, LBJ was no stickler for the rules. One historian said that Johnson would take up to 400 swings during an 18-hole round – if he didn’t like a shot, he’d hit another until he was satisfied. Also, it has been said that LBJ used golf rounds to sway senators into voting for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

• • •

Dwight Eisenhower

Ike was named Golfweek’s Golfer of the Century in 2000 and was a member of Augusta National Golf Club. As president, Eisenhower installed a putting green on the White House lawn and during his eight years in office played some 800 rounds. While his handicap never reached single-digits, he did team with Arnold Palmer, a frequent playing partner of his, to win a charity event in 1964.

• • •

Richard Nixon

Nixon took up the game while serving as Eisenhower’s vice president and is believed to have played to a 12-handicap, even breaking 80 on an occasion. However, he is also known for removing the putting green from the White House lawn.

• • •

Ronald Reagan

Reagan wasn’t an avid golfer, though some say he had a good swing and could break triple-digits. During a Reagan round at Augusta National in October 1983, an armed gunman drove his truck through an entrance gate and took five hostages in the club’s pro shop, demanding to speak to Reagan. Two hours later, the man was arrested. No one was hurt and the man ended up serving three years in prison.

• • •

Warren Harding

Harding was a high-handicapper, but TPC Harding Park in Lake Merced, Calif., near San Francisco, was named in his honor.

• • •

Lyndon B. Johnson

According to his biographies, LBJ was no stickler for the rules. One historian said that Johnson would take up to 400 swings during an 18-hole round – if he didn’t like a shot, he’d hit another until he was satisfied. Also, it has been said that LBJ used golf rounds to sway senators into voting for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

• • •

Dwight Eisenhower

Ike was named Golfweek’s Golfer of the Century in 2000 and was a member of Augusta National Golf Club. As president, Eisenhower installed a putting green on the White House lawn. During his eight years in office, he played some 800 rounds. While his handicap never reached single-digits, he did team with Arnold Palmer, a frequent playing partner of his, to win a charity event in 1964.

• • •

Richard Nixon

Nixon took up the game while serving as Eisenhower’s vice president and is believed to have played to a 12-handicap, even breaking 80 on an occasion. However, he is also known for removing the putting green from the White House lawn.

• • •

George H.W. Bush

Once an 11-handicap, Bush is known for being a fast player. His maternal grandfather George Herbert Walker was president of the U.S. Golf Association and founded the Walker Cup. Bush was also inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

• • •

Bill Clinton

Clinton is known for being long off the tee and a huge golf nut. One time as president, he played by himself in the pouring rain at the Army Navy Country Club. His foundation also hosts the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour.

• • •

George W. Bush

Though he called his golf game “mediocre” in 2015, Bush is a decent stick, and like his father, is a quick player. He said he once shot 77 at Augusta National. He annually hosts the Warrior Open, a golf event benefiting wounded servicemen.

• • •

Barack Obama

Obama was the eighth lefthander to serve as president but the first to play golf. He is criticized for playing too much golf, but he is no different than other avid golfing presidents. He’s a good player, too, and video of a holed chip from a round in Hawaii is proof.

• • •

Donald Trump and Tiger Woods together on Friday. (Twitter/@izzy_pecoraro)

Donald Trump

Trump’s relationship with golf is unlike any other president. Not only does Trump play it well (he is a single-digit handicap), he also owns many golf courses, including in the U.S., Scotland, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates. Trump has recently played rounds with Tiger Woods and Lexi Thompson, though he admits since he’s won the election, his rounds-played number has suffered. We can’t imagine his schedule gets any easier, but Trump will still have a chance to impact the game greatly as president. His courses in Bedminster, N.J., is set to host this year’s U.S. Women’s Open, as well.

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