Ike’s Golf Legacy

Ike’s Golf Legacy 1
Golfing presidents John F. Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower.
(Public Domain)

IN NOVEMBER DWIGHT EISENHOWER will be the first President inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, joining other Class of 2009 inductees Christy O’Connor, José Maria Olazábal and Lanny Wadkins. Ike will enter the Hall as a selection in the Lifetime Achievement Category.

The man who was Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II and a two-term President during the Cold War had a deep affection for the game of golf and helped to make it a popular American pastime.

Eisenhower is credited with motivating millions of golfers over the age of 40 to try the game for the first time. When Ike took office in 1953, 3.2 million Americans played golf. By 1961, that number had doubled, according to Don Van Natta Jr., author of First Off the Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers and Cheaters from Taft to Bush.

In a letter sent to the Detroit News on May 1, 1953, President Eisenhower wrote, “While I know that I speak with the partisanship of an enthusiast, golf obviously provides one of our best forms of healthful exercise, accompanied by good fellowship and companionship. It is a sport in which the whole American family can participate—fathers, mothers, sons and daughters alike. It offers healthy respite from daily toil, refreshment of body and mind.”

“One would be hard pressed to find any single person who did more to popularize the game of golf, not only in the United States but throughout the world, than President Eisenhower,” Arnold Palmer said in a statement.

Ike made his first trip to Augusta National Golf Club in 1948 and visited the club 45 times, often for lengthy stays. After he became President, a group of Augusta National members built a cabin for him, complete with space for Secret Service agents on the bottom floor. The club’s most famous member eventually became memorialized through the naming of landmarks at Augusta National, including Ike’s Pond and Ike’s Tree.

The 2009 World Golf Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., on Monday, November 2.

−The Armchair Golfer

(Source: World Golf Hall of Fame)

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

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