Golf and the President of the United States: The two, seemingly, go hand in hand.
From Dwight D. Eisenhower installing a putting green at the White House and having a tree at Augusta National named after him, to George H.W. and George W. Bush playing rounds of speed golf, the sport has long been linked with the political position.
And the tradition could continue. Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, owns golf courses across the globe and has played a major role in both the PGA and LPGA tours.
With the connection in mind, I wondered which professional golfer would make the best President and turned to the Google+ Golf Community for its thoughts. Off the top of my head, I placed Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Jack Nicklaus in the race. I also included an “Other” and encouraged write-in votes via the comments section.
Not surprisingly, the uber-popular Mickelson did well, garnering 28 percent of the vote. He was, however, greatly outdistanced by the Golden Bear’s 53 percent. Tiger (8%) and Jordan (2%) were also-rans. In Jordan’s defense, he’s 13 years away from even being old enough to take the office.
Based on the write-in vote, perhaps I should’ve swapped Spieth with Arnold Palmer. One person said, “[Arnie’s] army would not only have carried him to victory in the election but would have fought for him in any war.”
Oddly enough, Craig Stadler received one vote. Who knew the Walrus was held in such high esteem?
For the sake of argument, let’s assume Mickelson’s legions of fans carry him to the White House in 2020. He would be 50 years old and, most likely, still spend the bulk of his time on the PGA Tour. While his smile and fist bumps would serve him well, I wonder if the amount of golf he played would be an issue. It would certainly take the heat off of President Obama’s playing history while in office.
Had Tiger been President that fateful Thanksgiving in 2009 (Note: He was only 33 at the time), it would’ve been him in the back seat of the SUV with a Secret Service agent speeding away from Elin’s attack. JFK’s extramarital affairs would pale in comparison.
Taking liberties with the “natural-born citizen” clause, here are some more interesting similarities between past Presidents and professional golfers:
- Long after George Washington famously chopped down that cherry tree, Kevin Na took a chainsaw to a tree at TPC San Antonio - site of his unfortunate 16 on the par-4 ninth.
- In addition to aforementioned W and H.W. Bush duo, John Quincy Adams followed his dad, John, into the office. Jay and Bill Haas may both have very successful careers, but can they even compete with Old Tom and Young Tom Morris?
- Race relations is a recurring issue in the United States and, unfortunately, seemingly hasn’t gotten better since Obama became the first African-American President. To his credit, Charlie Sifford becoming the first African-American on the PGA Tour opened many doors to minorities in the sport and led to the greatest golfer of my generation: Tiger.
- As Hillary Clinton nears the Democratic nomination, we have a realistic chance at seeing our first female President. In 2003, we had Annika Sorenstam becoming the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event (Colonial) in the modern era. Babe Zaharias did it in 1945 and made the 36-hole cut.
- Ronald Reagan and Michail Gorbachev ended the Cold War. Nicklaus conceded a missable putt to Tony Jacklin on the 18th hole of the 1969 Ryder Cup, resulting in a tie and U.S. retention of the Cup. Given what we know now about Europe’s domination, would Jack still do the same?
If nothing else, compared to politicians that become presidents, we know golfers would add more to a bartender's repertoire. William McKinley’s presidency gave us “McKinley’s Delight” (rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy and absinthe), while Arnie blessed the world with the “Arnold Palmer” (iced tea and lemonade). Add vodka and we have the “John Daly.” That’s a win for golf.