Dwight D. Eisenhower played golf as a constant source of entertainment – more than 800 rounds to be exact while he was president from 1953 to 1961. As an athletic president, Eisenhower clearly had a passion for the game and served as an ambassador for the sport. He typically shot in the mid-80s and spent more than a quarter of his golf games at Augusta National Golf Club. His popularity soared and the number of golfers doubled during his time in office.
At the end of World War II, Americans had more disposable income and leisure time to participate in golf. Families had greater financial freedom to afford golf equipment and green fees. They also tuned in to their newly available televisions to watch stars like Arnold Palmer smoke cigarettes and hit long drives. Eisenhower was also a fan and even spent the night at one of Palmer’s residences where the two bonded over the game. Celebrities, politicians, and citizens were all enthused about golf at the time.
Eisenhower not only went to the golf course, he also brought golf into the White House as well. Bob Hope, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Senator Robert Taft, and General Omar Bradley would visit the South Lawn where there was a practice range. The area was used a place to build relationships and foster cooperation with representatives from both political parties. The game was a way to increase goodwill and understanding among opponents despite their personal differences.
As the unofficial ambassador, Eisenhower was selected for induction to the World Golf Hall of Fame in the Lifetime Achievement Category. And he was most closely connected with Augusta National Golf Club as he played there 29 times in his two terms. Known as a solider, politician and statesman, Eisenhower will always be remembered as an avid golfer. After leaving office, Eisenhower remarked how his life had changed: “I don’t get as many short putts,” he answered. Ike had a great impact on golf and was the man who played it the most out of any president.