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Presidential Duffers Through History

Did you know that seventeen of the last 20 United States presidents played golf? The 3 who didn’t play include Jimmy Carter, Harry Truman, and Herbert Hoover. Several presidents have been avid golfers, and a few have even held single digit handicaps. 

In honor of Presidents Day, we decided to look at some of the presidents who didn’t play quite as well and had handicaps of 20 or higher.

Lyndon B. Johnson – 36th President (1963-1969)

Handicap: He didn’t have a handicap

Johnson was known to take up to 400 swings during an 18-hole round – if he didn’t like a shot, he’d hit another until he was satisfied. Despite his lack of skill on the course, he often used golf as a tool for political negotiations. It’s been said that Johnson used golf rounds to sway senators into voting for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Calvin Coolidge – 30th President (1921-1923)

Handicap: Estimated to be 30+

Coolidge played golf out of obligation and took double digits on almost every hole. He once famously took an 11 on a 130-yard par 3. It’s been said that not only were his scores awful, but he never wore the proper golfing attire of the day and never used etiquette on the course. He grew so discouraged with the game that he left his clubs at the White House when he finished his second term, in 1929.

Woodrow Wilson – 28th President (1913-1921)

Handicap: 25-30

Wilson was ordered to play golf by his doctor as a way to relieve stress. He listened to his doctor! During his two terms, he played more than 1,000 rounds of golf, including during the winter using golf balls that were painted black so he could see them in the snow. As much as he played, he rarely ever broke 100 and once took 15 putts to finish a hole. Too bad he didn’t have a Bloodline putter back then.

Warren G. Harding – 29th President (1921-1923)

Handicap: 22

Harding was an avid golfer who some say was obsessed with the game. Even though he was able to get out on the course twice a week, he often scored in the triple digits. He loved the game and even trained his dog, Laddie Boy, to retrieve golf balls on the White House lawn. Although he was never very good at golf, he made his mark as TPC Harding Park in San Francisco was named after him.

William Taft – 27th President (1909-1913)

Handicap: 20 - 30

President McKinley made the first presidential putt in 1897, but Taft was the first U.S. President to play a lot of golf and take the game seriously. In fact, he played golf every chance he could and was criticized for being on the links more than being in the White House. He never let high scores discourage his love of the game.

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