Why Do US Presidents Play Golf (Specifically)?

Okay, just to be clear from the start, this isn’t a criticism of any specific president for playing golf. Just like other humans, presidents need exercise too.

Rather, my question is about why golf instead of other sports. And yes, there are a few intuitive answers: Golf is a no-contact sport with a low injury risk. It’s both exercise and a social activity that can be used to build camaraderie with strategic partners. Also, presidents need to choose activities that present a minimal risk factor to them (and that inconveniences the fewest citizens as a result)–golf probably fits into that category.

All of that said, there are plenty of other sports and activities that fit those categories. Bowling, indoor rock climbing, swimming, racquetball, tennis, and even just hiking come to mind (the first few of which require little to no travel–the White House has a bowling alley).

Yet golf seems to consistently rise above the rest, as noted in this article. This isn’t a recent phenomenon–it goes back 100 years. Perhaps it’s not so much that presidents choose golf as it is that the type of person who is likely to become president is also the type of person who happens to play golf.

What do you think? Does this extend to other world leaders as well?


2 Responses to “Why Do US Presidents Play Golf (Specifically)?”

  1. Emma says:

    I’ve never played but aside from the travel piece you mentioned (if there isn’t one in the White House, you’re shutting down multiple blocks around a community asset just to participate), here are two theories:

    1) To your point about golfers becoming presidents, it’s the game of the powerful and wealthy in our country. Most people who’ve achieved that position have had to play many times. It’s like professional development on some level.

    2) it gets measured. Probably in some records somewhere, yes one could ascertain how many times a President visited the White House bowling alley. But have I ever seen it in the news? So the count might be high because it exists and we’ve seen it 🙂

    • T-Mac says:

      Emma’s comment sparked a question for me. It’d be interesting to gauge the leaders of other countries for comparison. In the US, golf is associated with money, status, networking, etc. Might that be cricket or polo in another country? Do Danish leaders (including Kings) have a history of polo? Do Norwegian leader’s bobsled or snowshoe? Do Paraguayans have jowl-growing and measuring contests? Curious.

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