• Presidents at Play

    Presidents at Play

    With a historic US Presidential Election currently unfolding, GARY LEMKE had a look at all the previous presidents, who loved the game of golf.


    OK, so this isn’t a snapshot of Donald Trump’s Twitter timeline, nor did I mistakingly have my keyboard caps lock on, although I’ve often wondered why he tweets in the manner that he does – or did?

    By the time you read this the US elections have probably already been held and the likelihood is that Trump is clearing out the Oval Office to make space for Joe Biden and his wife Jill.

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    From a golfing perspective, Biden is likely to make use of the Oval Office putting green, reportedly all 1 500 sq ft of Southshore creeping bentgrass and pick up where Trump left off. United States presidents have a rich history of playing golf, and Dwight Eisenhower first had a putting green installed at the White House in 1954.

    The long line of leaders who have subsequently played the game to quite a smart level include John F Kennedy, Gerald Ford, George Bush Snr, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and, of course, Trump himself. Others, like George Bush Jnr, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were said to be more of the hacker variety.

    Still, it goes to show that there’s room for everyone on a golf course. According to a presidential golf tracker, Trump played golf 293 times since becoming president, including with our own Ernie Els in 2017. That same tracker says Obama played 333 rounds of golf during his presidency, although that was an eight-year stint compared to Trump’s four.

    But what can one expect of Biden when it comes to golf? Apparently he only took up the game when he was 57 and according to reports he lists his handicap at 6.3, which has been disputed, with Golf Digest suggesting it’s around the 10 mark. And as Trump told him at the first pre-election debate, ‘you probably golf more than I do.’

    Former Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican, wasn’t overly complimentary saying, ‘Joe Biden told me that he was a good golfer. And I’ve played golf with Joe Biden, I can tell you that’s not true, as well as all of the other things that he says.’

    What of Trump? He says he’s a 2.8 handicap and Els said after a round with him at Mar-a-Lago that ‘he’s a proper golfer’. At the time – in 2017 – the South African swatted aside criticism of him playing with the controversial billionaire. ‘A lot of my own friends were not for him,’ he said. ‘They kind of needled me a little bit, saying I was a suck-up. I just said, “Go eff yourself. I played with the president and you haven’t.”

    You can’t please everybody. I’ve played with the Queen of Malaysia, I’ve played with other presidents, but this is the most powerful guy in the whole world and to see him in his full security detail, it’s impressive.’

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    Now, barring an epic upset, Joe Biden becomes the latest US president to make use of that putting green at the Oval Office and get out on to the various golf courses at his disposal – although it is unlikely we will see him grace one of the 15 courses, 11 of those being in the US, three in Europe and one on the Middle East, owned by Trump.

    As far as Trump goes, we will see if golf has taught him anything about being a good loser, though as he thumbs his phone it’s more likely to be a Twitter tirade of GIMME A MULLIGAN!!! HE CHEATED!!! THESE RULES SUCK!!! than anything in good grace.

    Now, though, there’s probably a new sheriff in town, and despite turning 78 later this month, Biden will get an opportunity to drag his handicap down from a 10 into single figures. That’s just one of the many perks of the job.

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