Dwight Eisenhower Elected to World Golf Hall of Fame

The General and President and His Love of Golf

President Dwight Eisenhower
American President Dwight D. Eisenhower was an avid golfer and a member at Augusta National Golf Club. National Archives / Getty Images

June 26, 2009 - Dwight David Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allies in World War II, the architect of D-Day, and two-term president of the United States, has been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Eisenhower was selected in the Lifetime Achievement Category and is the fourth announced member of the Class of 2009, the others being Lanny Wadkins, Jose Maria Olazabal and Christy O'Connor Sr.

The King, Arnold Palmer, said of the prez:

"One would be hard-pressed to find any single person who did more to popularize the game of golf, not only in the United States but throughout the world, than President Eisenhower. His visibility, coupled with his passion for the game, were the inspiration for literally millions of people picking up the game for the first time. Those involved in golf today owe him a great debt of gratitude."

Eisenhower was the most famous golfer in the world - or perhaps a better way to state is that he was the most famous person who was an avid golfer - during his presidency. Ike was in office from 1953-61; at the beginning of that period, according to Don Van Natta, Jr., author of First Off The Tee (compare prices), just over three million Americans were golfers. By the end of his term, more than six million Americans were playing the game. There's even a book about Ike's impact on golf, called Don't Ask What I Shot: How Eisenhower's Love of Golf Helped Shape 1950s America (compare prices).

How did Ike impact those numbers? His visibility playing the game, and enthusiasm for it. Eisenhower had a putting green installed on the White House lawn. He was a member of Augusta National Golf Club and played there a lot.

According to a Golf Digest article from 2008, Eisenhower played golf more than 800 times during his presidency.

And Ike's presidency wasn't a time of tranquility in America or the world: The Civil Rights movement and Southern desegregation battles were under way; Castro came to power in Cuba; the French pulled out of Indochina in defeat and America began stepping up its own involvement in Vietnam; the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was getting very chilly indeed.

And yet Eisenhower managed to spend more than 1,000 days of his presidency (according to Golf Digest's count) playing golf or involved in some other golf-related activity.

That is devotion to the game.

Eisenhower's love of golf is spotlighted each year during The Masters when announcers note several features of Augusta National named after the president.

Ike's Pond is part of the Par-3 Course at Augusta, named after Eisenhower because he's the one who suggested impounding a spring to form the pond. He wanted a secluded fishing spot.

The Eisenhower Cabin is used by club members and was added to Augusta in 1953. And the Eisenhower Tree (sometimes called Ike's Tree) is on the 17th fairway. It's called that because Ike hit it so often with his drives that he eventually tried - unsuccessfully - to have it cut down.