Kennedy and Eisenhower Advance to Match-Play Final

From the ARMCHAIR GOLF archives.

TOP SEEDS JOHN F. KENNEDY AND DWIGHT EISENHOWER will play for the title in the Presidents Golf Championship at Augusta National Golf Club.

Kennedy and Eisenhower Advance to Match-Play Final 1
JFK and Ike will meet in final. (Public Domain)

In semifinals action, No. 1 seed Kennedy easily defeated No. 13 seed Richard Nixon, the surprise player of the tournament with upsets of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and George H.W. Bush. No. 2 seed Eisenhower escaped with a win in the other semifinal when No. 3 seed Gerald Ford faltered after building a three-hole lead.

“I was fortunate to beat Ford,” Eisenhower admitted. “It was a tough match.”

(Last week: Obama, Bushes and Clinton Eliminated)

Ike was asked if he had considered the possibility that his former vice president would upset Kennedy to gain a berth in the finals.

“No,” Eisenhower replied. “Nixon loses to Kennedy, whether debates, elections, or golf. Now excuse me while I go practice my putting.”


#1 Kennedy defeats #13 Nixon, 10 and 8

Tension enveloped the first tee like morning dew. John F. Kennedy was impassive, making Richard Nixon’s bravado seem more forced than ever. “Let’s see what you’ve got, Jack,” Nixon said while fidgeting with his head cover. Kennedy took his stance, addressed the Titlelist No. 1 marked with “JFK,” and made his smooth, athletic swing, sweeping the dimpled ball off its wooden peg to a lush green spot 250 yards down the 1st fairway. The match was over. Although he tried to hide it, it was written on Nixon’s face. For Nixon, the next three hours were a painful series of jerks and spasms while Kennedy played like a scout searching for hidden clues on Augusta’s expansive fairways and undulating greens. JFK knew his toughest match lay ahead. Nixon maintained his defiant posture when it was over. “I played better in the quarterfinals,” he said, a dark expression covering his face. Then he suddenly forced a smile, flashed his two-armed victory salute to no one in particular, and walked away.


#2 Eisenhower defeats #3 Ford, 3 and 1

There was a subdued quality to the day’s other semifinal. Both serious-minded men and intense competitors, Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford went about their business on the golf course as if it were a cabinet meeting. For the first prolonged period during the matches, Ike’s putter completely deserted him. Meanwhile, Ford built a comfortable three-hole lead on the outward nine. Then things began to unravel at Amen Corner when Ford found the pond on 11 and Rae’s Creek on 12. Eisenhower caught Ford with a surprising birdie on the 13th hole, and by the time the pair reached the 16th tee Ike had a 1-up lead. Ford, who had never trailed in any of his matches, looked uncomfortable and indecisive. He chunked a delicate chip at 16 and sprayed his tee shot on 17 into the pines. Eisenhower closed out the match when he tapped in for par on the 17th green. The two men shook hands and Ike offered words of consolation. While gracious in defeat, Ford did not like to lose. Ford invited Ike to visit him in Palm Springs, where he knew he would have a much better chance to defeat the general.

The Final

Results of the final match will be published next Tuesday.


#1 seed John F. Kennedy



#2 seed Dwight Eisenhower

Photo of author
Neil Sagebiel

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