Sports

All the Golfing Presidents 

Mike Rothschild
Updated January 15, 2019 17.8k views 16 items

Since the game of golf became popular in the early 1900s, most presidents have played - with levels ranging from apathetic to enthusiastic. In fact, only a couple of presidents haven't played, and they found their own ways of spending their leisure time. Golf and the presidency have been linked ever since William Howard Taft became a visible proponent of the game, talking up its health attributes. It became more and more important for presidents to project an image of physical fitness, while also appear athletic and graceful. Golf was a way to do this.

At the same time as presidents started enjoying golf, they started to be criticized for enjoying it. Despite having entire websites devoted just to counting how many rounds he's played, Barack Obama is far from the first president to draw the wrath of the media for his golf habit.Taft himself was criticized so much that he vowed to curtail his playing. Dwight Eisenhower, maybe the most enthusiastic golfer in the White House, was given no quarter, and his opponents delighted in calling him the "Duffer in Chief."

There have been plenty of presidential golfers and presidents who golfed are no rarity in American politics. Whoever the next president is, it's a sure bet that their leisure activities, be they golf or something else, will be pounced on by their opponents.
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Franklin D. Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list All the Golfing Presidents
Photo: flickr/CC0
Before polio robbed him of his mobility, Roosevelt was a regular golfer, well-known for his ability to hit long drives, and for his enthusiastic evangelism of the sport. He never was able to play as president.

Age: Dec. at 63 (1882-1945)

Birthplace: Hyde Park, New York, United States of America

Presidency: 32

V.P.: John Nance Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Harry S. Truman

Profession: Politician, Soldier, Corporate lawyer, Writer, Lawyer

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Dwight D. Eisenhower is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list All the Golfing Presidents
Photo: Metaweb/CC-BY
After spearheading the liberation of Europe, Eisenhower had earned a little time on the links. And he took it. Ike was an incredibly active golfer, playing between 800 and 900 rounds during his two terms, including some on the lawn outside the White House. Eisenhower played so much that he was criticized by political opponents and newspapers alike. Undaunted, Eisenhower kept playing, and had a cabin at Augusta National Golf Course named in his honor.

Age: Dec. at 79 (1890-1969)

Birthplace: Denison, Texas, United States of America

Presidency: 34

V.P.: Richard Nixon

Profession: Politician, Soldier

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John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list All the Golfing Presidents
Photo: Metaweb/CC-BY
The athletic Kennedy was an outstanding player, but kept his golf habit a secret during the 1960 election, due to the backlash against Eisenhower’s reputation as “The Great Golfer.” In fact, Kennedy had been part of the chorus criticizing Eisenhower's golf habit. So he didn't want the public to know that he was just as avid a player. He also injured his back early in his first year, and wasn't physically able to play for most of his presidency.

Age: Dec. at 46 (1917-1963)

Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts, United States of America

Presidency: 35

V.P.: Lyndon B. Johnson

Profession: Politician, Military Officer, Author, Writer

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Lyndon B. Johnson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list All the Golfing Presidents
Photo: Metaweb/GNU Free Documentation License
While most presidents kept politics out of their golf games, Johnson was the opposite. He used golf as a means to an end, spending the long walks on the course convincing opponents to do what he wanted them to do, particularly with regard to the Civil Rights Act. He also was renowned for refusing to divulge his scores, requesting copious do-overs, and taking hundreds of swings just to hit one perfect shot.

Age: Dec. at 65 (1908-1973)

Birthplace: Stonewall, Texas, United States of America

Presidency: 36

V.P.: Hubert Humphrey

Profession: Politician, Teacher

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