Fun_People Archive
22 May
Presidential Golf

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Wed, 22 May 96 15:02:21 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: Presidential Golf

Forwarded-by: Keith Bostic <>
Forwarded-by: Keith Sullivan <>

-- by Fred R. Bleakley, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

Presidents of the United States from William Howard Taft to Bill Clinton
have sliced, shanked and topped many a golf ball.  But only one played a
round before declaring war, only one flipped his electric golf cart into
a water hazard, and only one routinely took more free drives than strokes
that counted.

The distinctions -- belonging, respectively to Woodrow Wilson, John F.
Kennedy, and Lydon Baines Johnson -- are among the anecdotes in a new book
called "Presidential Lies:  The Illustrated History of White House Golf."

Written by two retired journalists and avid golfers, Shepherd Campbell
and Peter Landau, the book analyzes the golfing habits of 13 of the past
16 presidents.  (Presidents Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman and Jimmy Carter
didn't play much golf.)

It seems most of the century's presidents were passionate about golf.
President Taft once said, "I'll be damned if I will give up my game of
golf" to meet the visiting president of Chile.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had won his country club championship as a
youth, started 250 municipal courses under his public-works program.

Dwight Eisenhower went to the links surrounded by Secret Service agents
disguised as golfers with long-range rifles in their bags.  But JFK was
the best golfer of all, the book contends.  Mr. Landau, historian of St.
Andrews Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., says the book was inspired
by a picture of JFK golfing.  "His swing was in such perfect balance I
knew he must have been good," he says.

Adding to his advantage, JFK often pointed out sand traps, out-of-bounds
markers and other hazards to opponents.  It was "a courtesy," said Pierre
Salinger, his press secretary, "that would have taken the confidence of
a Ben Hogan."

Perks like that seem to come with the presidency.  Bill Clinton often
grants himself and partners one or more free drives each round, the book
says.  And golf pro Sam Snead wrote in his autobiography that he once
"knew" that Richard Nixon threw a ball out of a wooded thicket without
taking an extra stroke, the book says.

Indeed, if there is any tip for the average golfer in the book, it is
this:  Aim for the presidency.  George Bush said after leaving office, "I
find I no longer win every golf game I play."

From: The Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, May 21, 1996.

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