The President of the United States is one of the most stressful jobs in the history of America, so it’s no surprise quite a few Commanders-in-Chief took to the golf course to let off a little steam.
In honor of Presidents Day, we take a look back on 10 past U.S. presidents that found happiness with a golf club in their hands.
Famously a member at Augusta National Golf Club where he used to have one of the most notorious trees in golf named after him (which unfortunately fell in 2014 due to a major ice storm), Ike played more than 800 rounds of golf while calling the White House home. Playing often with Arnold Palmer in the years following the conclusion of World War II, Eisenhower and the King brought the game to the masses. According to “Ike’s Bluff”, a biography by Evan Thomas, “Ike loosened up in his White House bedroom every morning with an 8-iron, hit balls on the White House lawn every day at 5 p.m…the man was serious about his golf.”
George W. Bush
Bush 43 is a certified golf junkie. While not only a decent player in his own right, Bush enjoys watching the pros on television and is a frequent guest at the biennial Presidents Cup matches. Most famously, Bush is a quick player with rounds that surpass three hours being considered slow.
Nixon took up golf while serving as Vice President of the United States under Dwight Eisenhower. However, his plan to spend more time with his boss turned into a full-blown addiction, eventually leading friends to build a three-hole golf course at his home in California as a respite from the likes of Watergate and Vietnam.
— Reagan Foundation (@ronaldreagan40) December 28, 2018
Reagan had been a golfer long before he entered the Presidency. As an actor and executive, he played the game often, and his natural athletic ability led him to be a pretty good player. Once in office, however, Reagan’s rounds were limited dramatically, save for his annual New Year’s Eve outings on a private California course. Famously, Reagan was playing a round at Augusta National when a gunman took two hostages in the club’s pro shop and demanded to talk to the Commander in Chief.
George H.W. Bush
Bush 41 was a golfer by blood, and that line ran throughout his family. In fact, his grandfather, George Herbert Walker, was a former President of the USGA and the founder of the Walker Cup. Bush was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 and would appear at multiple PGA Tour events each year.
“Golf is an ineffectual attempt to put an elusive ball into an obscure hole with implements ill-adapted to the purpose.”
President Woodrow Wilson pic.twitter.com/IKSxAYAlM6
— Mike Rinehart (@mrinehart32) February 16, 2018
Wilson was the United States’ most avid golfing president. During his eight-year term, Wilson logged over 1,200 rounds, most alongside his good friend, Dr. Cary T. Grayson. Grayson had recommended the President play the game as a healthy respite from his time in the Oval Office. Wilson was so golf mad that the Secret Service would paint golf balls black so that he could play during the winter.
John F. Kennedy
— Grupo Jach (@GrupoJach) May 3, 2016
Perhaps one of the best pure golfers to ever rise to the Presidency, JFK’s golf game was hampered by physical limitations as well as the amount of golf played by his predecessor. Assuming the White House from Dwight Eisenhower, Kennedy’s love for the game was curbed by political limitations set out by Ike’s critics. JFK was said to be on the precipice of being a single-digit handicap, except that his job got in the way, and he couldn’t play regularly.
Obama was first left-handed Commander in Chief to take up the game. While still relatively new to the sport, Obama has enjoyed rounds of golf with some of the sports world’s biggest stars, including Stephen Curry, Ray Allen, Chris Paul and Tiger Woods.
Clinton is among the upper echelon of good golfing presidents, however, his affinity for re-dos gave birth to a great golfing euphemism: billigans. His reputation for stretching the rules even had many Washington insiders questioning the legitimacy of reports that he broke 80 during a round in 1997. Post-presidency, Clinton and his foundation were involved with a PGA Tour event until recently.
One of the most naturally athletic presidents, Ford was long off the tee and occasionally wild. Ford reportedly outdrove Arnold Palmer and Gary Player during a round the trio played together at Pinehurst No. 2. And despite his reputation as a clumsy player who routinely struck gallery members, Ford averaged in the mid-80s.