100+ Years of Golfing Presidents

There has been a long 100 plus-year history of golfing presidents and we hope that tradition continues. Most agree that the first golfing president on record was William Howard Taft. Others suspect Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president, may have been the first, however at the time golf was considered a sport for only the wealthy. As a result, many presidents of that era may have golfed but may never have admitted to it.

In this post we will provide snippets on all the golfing presidents, from Trump to Taft, covering over 100 years of presidential golfing history.

45. Donald Trump
Term: 2017 – Present
Party: Republican
Profession: Real Estate Developer
Vice President: Mike Pence

Trump may love the game of golf more than any previous president. He golfs almost every weekend and takes frequent trips to his golf courses in the northeast and Florida. He reportedly is a frequent cheater, throwing fellow players’ golf balls in the water traps and having his secret service detail ensure his golf balls always end up on the fairway. He claims his handicap is around 2.8 but we think it is higher. That being said he has a fairly powerful tee shot that can be seen in the video below:

44. Barack Obama
Term: 2009 – 2017
Party: Democratic
Profession: Politician, Author, Professor, Lawyer
Vice President: Joe Biden

Obama is a big time golfer with a handicap around 13. We’ve profiled him previously on Presidential Golf Tracker. He played 333 rounds of golf during his presidency. He is known for a bit of trash talking and psychological warfare with his fellow golfers but is known to play an honest game otherwise, unlike some current and previous presidents. The weakest part of his golf game is in the sand. We’re sure he’s improved since leaving office. See below for footage of one of his golf outings in Hawaii:

43. George W. Bush
Term: 2001 – 2009
Party: Republican
Profession: Politician, Businessperson
Vice President: Dick Cheney

Bush 43 played a modest amount of golf while president as he was concerned with how a golfing president would look to the public during the 2nd Iraq war. As such, he held back from golfing while serving the majority of his presidency but played more frequently after. It’s thought that he brought his handicap under 10 after leaving the White House. He played often with his father George H.W. Bush.

42. Bill Clinton
Term: 1993 – 2001
Party: Democratic
Profession: Politician, Lawyer
Vice President: Al Gore

Clinton was known for his “Billigans”, otherwise known as mulligans. He used them frequently, with them he could shoot around 90, Without them, who knows… Clinton enjoys the game and at one time was a member of Trump’s golf courses. We’re assuming his membership status has since changed due to Trump winning the presidency over his wife Hillary Clinton.

41. George H.W. Bush
Term: 1989 – 1993
Party: Republican
Profession: Politician, Businessman, Navy pilot
Vice President: Dan Quayle

Bush Sr. is quoted as saying “I do love the game.” when referring to golf. He is in the World Golf Hall of Fame and his father was a scratch golfer and former president of the USGA. He was known for his speed on the golf course and he believed that it should be played at an aerobic pace. At his peak, his handicap was acknowledged to be around 11. See a comparison video of Bush Jr. and Sr.’s golf swings below:

40. Ronald Reagan
Term: 1981 – 1989
Party: Republican
Profession: Politician, Actor
Vice President: George H.W. Bush

Not much to say about Reagan and golfing other than he knew how to play but didn’t play often while president. It is rumored that Reagan’s best score was around the low 90s.

39. James Carter
Term: 1977 – 1981
Party: Democratic
Profession: Farmer
Vice President: Walter Mondale

Carter is considered one of three non-golfing presidents. History.com says he occasionally played golf but preferred tennis and hiking.

38. Gerald R. Ford
Term: 1974 – 1977
Party: Republican
Profession: Politician, Lawyer
Vice President: Nelson Rockefeller

Ford believed the game of golf had uniting powers. He felt that it brought people from varied walks of life together. He once said, “I know I am getting better at golf because I am hitting fewer spectators.” Golfworld states Ford shot rounds consistently in the 80s, after his presidency. In 1995, he played in an iconic match joining both Bill Clinton and H.W. Bush at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Footage from the Classic can be viewed below:

37. Richard M. Nixon
Term: 1969 – 1974
Party: Republican
Profession:Politician, Lawyer
Vice President: Gerald R. Ford

Nixon was fond of golf and probably played often when he was Vice President for Eisenhower. He had a three-hole course built for him at his home in California. Many say after years of attempting to break a round shooting 80, he finally shot 79 and retired from the game forever. Footage of his golf swing can be seen below

36. Lyndon B. Johnson
Term: 1963 – 1969
Party: Democratic
Profession: Politician, teacher
Vice President: Hubert Humphrey

Johnson played golf more for it’s ability to break the ice and build bridges with other politicians. He played rounds of golf with many senators to secure votes for the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

35. John F. Kennedy
Term: 1961 -1963
Party: Democratic
Profession: Politician, Navy Officer
Vice President: Lyndon B. Johnson

Kennedy didn’t play as often as his predecessor Eisenhower, but he still enjoyed the game. He was known for his relaxed and confident style of play which yielded rounds shot in the 80s. He probably would have played more often if not for his chronic back pain. His swing was compromised as a result of the back pain: he had to narrow his stance and hunch his upper back to compensate. Footage of his golf swing can be seen here

34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Term: 1953 – 1961
Party: Republican
Profession: Politician, Army General
Vice President: Richard Nixon

Eisenhower was previously profiled on Presidential Golf Tracker here. He is the 2nd most prolific golfing president measured by the amount of rounds played, bested only by Woodrow Wilson. It is thought that Eisenhower played over 800 rounds of golf while president. He had a putting green installed outside the oval office. His handicap was between 13-17 and he golfed at Augusta 29 times during his presidency.

33. Harry S. Truman
Term: 1945 – 1953
Party: Democratic
Profession: Writer, Judge, Politician, Haberdasher
Vice President: Alben W. Barkley

Many say Truman did not enjoy the game of golf. He is considered one of the three non-golfing presidents

32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
Term: 1933 – 1945
Party: Democratic
Profession: Politician, Lawyer
Vice President: John Garner, Henry Wallace, Harry S. Truman

Roosevelt loved golf and was quite a good player until polio took away his ability to play before becoming president at the age of 39. Even though polio took away much of his physical abilities, he was still able to observe the building of a golf course with his namesake located in Philadelphia.

31. Herbert Hoover
Term: 1929 – 1933
Party: Republican
Profession: Politician, Engineer, Businessman
Vice President: Charles Curtis

It’s not readily known if Hoover liked golf or what his handicap was. What is known is during the great depression, which coincided with his presidency he felt it was inappropriate to play golf.

30. Calvin Coolidge
Term: 1923 – 1929
Party: Republican
Profession: Politician, Lawyer
Vice President: Charles G, Dawes

Coolidge wasn’t an avid golfer and played more so out of social obligation as golf was becoming more popular during the time of his presidency. He wasn’t know as particularly athletic and preferred shooting clay pigeons. According to Uswing, he left his golf clubs at the White House at the end of his presidency, a big hint perhaps that he wasn’t much of a golfing fan. Some say he required over 10 shots to complete each hole.

29. Warren G. Harding
Term: 1921 – 1923
Party: Republican
Profession: Politician, Journalist, Businessman
Vice President: Calvin Coolidge

Harding was another avid golfer. During his presidency he played all over the United States, from Florida to New Hampshire. Harding had signature custom golf balls designed with 13 stars and his initials. They were considered collectible items according to a Los Angeles Times article written in 1921.

28. Woodrow Wilson
Term: 1913 – 1921
Party: Democratic
Profession: Politician, Professor
Vice President: Thomas R. Marshall

It is said that Wilson played over 1,000 rounds of golf during his presidency. During World War I he blew off steam by golfing practically every day. Allegedly, he even painted his golf balls black so that he could play in the winter when there was still snow on the ground.

27. William Howard Taft
Term: 1909 – 1913
Party: Republican
Profession: Judge, Lawyer
Vice President: James S. Sherman

Taft developed a passion for golf before his presidency and was not shy about his love for golfing. He played throughout his presidency and often, to the point where the press would tease him about the amount of time he spent on the golf course. He told the press he would cut back but no evidence suggests that he ever did. Taft wasn’t known to be a good golfer, According to the Thegolfballfactory, he had a 20 handicap and shot below 90.