The Republicans are teed off that President Obama plays golf. What they don't seem to understand is that golf is an executive privilege. And a bipartisan indulgence. Republican William Howard Taft cast a large shadow on the fairway, but was a mediocre player. His successor, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, was perhaps the most avid and addicted golfer, logging 1200 rounds during his two terms (1913-1921). A stroke suffered in October of 1919 abruptly cut short his days on the links.
Dwight Eisenhower, Allied commander in World War II and our 34th president, may be the one most closely associated with the game. Typically, he played two rounds a week. A wag in the 1950s said Ike invented the 36-hole work week. Eisenhower's favorite golf course was in Augusta, Georgia---where the Masters Tournament is played every April. The owners built a special cottage to accomodate Ike and his wife Mamie whenever he visited. Ike also had a two-hole putting green installed on the White House lawn, and when the spirit moved him, he practiced with an iron kept in the Oval Office. He also was a good friend of the legendary golfers Bobby Jones and Arnold Palmer. At 77 Ike had a 104-yard hole in one on a course in Palm Springs, Florida.
John Kennedy excelled at the game too. What's more, every other president leading up to Mr. Obama had his link to the links. So why pilllory a president for playing? Golf happens to be one of the best ways a president can reenergize his batteries, blow off steam, and reinvigorate his cardiovascular system. Lyndon Johnson, though not an enthusiast, even found a political use for it --- to get the Civil Rights Act passed. Perhaps Obama modeled his olive-branch round with Boehner after LBJ's example.
But most important of all, golf can keep a president physically and mentally fit. A Swedish study shows that the dyed-in-the-wool golfer can live 5 years longer. According to one cardiologist, Dr. Edward Palank, golfers have lower levels of bad cholesterol. Golf also reduces stress, stimulates brain cells, improves vision, enhances the power of concentration, and promotes a good night's sleep.
Will Rogers once said that golf can get you so sore at yourself that you forget to hate your enemies. Republicans should remember this the next time they take exception to a presidential game of golf.