FAIRWAY FUN: Presidential Golf Trivia

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The election is just three weeks away and we thought it would be an appropriate time to take a look at the long history of presidents and golf. President Obama is the seventieth president to golf while in office. President McKinley was the first, in 1897. In the 114 years since, Roosevelt, Hoover, Truman, and Carter were the only presidents who didn’t golf. Here’s some other fun presidential golf trivia:

Question: Which president logged the most rounds of golf while in office?

Answer: While you might have thought the answer was Eisenhower, the correct answer is Woodrow Wilson. One of Wilson’s friends suggested he play regular golf for his health. He played so much that he even played with balls painted black in the winter!

Question: Which president commissioned the first putting green at the White House?

Eisenhower Putting Green
Eisenhower Putting Green

Answer: Dwight Eisenhower commissioned the first putting green at the White House. It was installed a short distance from the Oval Office in 1954 by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., a noted golf course architect at the time. Bill Clinton had the green moved to its current location.

Question: Which president kept his golf habit a secret?

Answer: John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was aware of the criticism Eisenhower endured for his frequent golfing. Golf was also viewed as a sport for privileged Republicans, and one that Democrats should neither play nor enjoy. However, according to many sources, Kennedy had quite the swing and probably would have held a single-digit handicap had he played on a regular basis.

Question: Which president was the first to join the USGA?

Answer: Gerald Ford. President Ford could certainly hold his own on the course. He could break 90 and once played a foursome at the famed Pinehurst with Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. He was the first presidential member of the USGA and was known for never taking a “gimmie” on the putting green, insisting on putting it out.

Question: Which president’s father and grandfather served as presidents of the USGA?

Answer: George H.W. Bush. His maternal grandfather was not only the president of the USGA, but also founded the Walker Cup. His father, Prescott Bush, was also USGA president and Bush himself was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. President H.W. Bush didn’t waste any time on the course either – he was best known for playing an incredibly fast game of golf. While George W. Bush also played golf, he gave it up during the Iraq War, as it just didn’t feel right while sending troops overseas.

Question: Which president was known for taking “Billigans” while he golfed?

Answer: Bill Clinton often took advantage of do-overs or “Billigans” while on the course. This was attributed to his fun-loving personality and according to some, his tendency to stretch the truth a bit. In 1995 President Clinton enlisted Robert Trent Jones, Jr. to rebuild a new putting green at the White House under the shade of the Hoover Oak.

Question: Which president plays left-handed?

Answer: Barack Obama. While other presidents have been left-handed, President Obama is the first to golf left-handed. He also prefers using his old clubs he’s had for years and playing public rather than private courses.

Clearly, golf and presidents go hand-in-hand. Only time will tell if our next president will spend time on the course. The Republican nominee owns a famed golf course in Chappaqua, NY bearing his name. The Democratic nominee has even played a round or two on that course! Sounds like more trivia in the making.

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