Golf was essential to his daily routine. When he awakened in the morning, he limbered up by taking a few swings in his bedroom with his favorite eight-iron.
He sometimes swung the club when dictating to Mrs. Whitman. At 5:00 p.m. he would rise from Teddy Roosevelt’s old Navy Department desk in the Oval Office, put on his golf shoes, and head out the door, leaving tiny spike holes in the floorboards. On the Ellipse, the greensward stretching south from the White House toward the Washington Monument, he would practice fairway approach shots. His faithful valet (or as he was known in military parlance, his striker), Sergeant John Moaney, would shag the balls while tourists peered through the iron fence.
Eisenhower teed off for a full round of golf about eight hundred times in his eight years as president. Almost every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, he played three-hour, eighteen-hole rounds at Burning Tree, an all-male club in the Maryland suburbs. On twenty-three trips to Georgia, he played roughly two hundred times at Augusta National, where friends built him, on the 10th hole, a spacious three-story house known initially as Mamie’s Cabin, then more commonly as the Eisenhower Cabin. (Mamie herself never played but approved of the game as a stress reliever for her husband.) Ike was a respectable weekend golfer, usually shooting in the 80s, but he had a congenital fade and an unreliable putter, and he sometimes blew up with a torrent of hells and damnations. (Ike almost never used stronger language, and he disapproved of off-color stories. He would turn and walk away if a friend unwittingly tried a dirty joke.) The United States Professional Golf Association helped build a putting green and sand trap outside his office on the South Lawn in 1954. In the spring of 1955, when some unruly squirrels created divots in the green, Ike ordered them shot. Eisenhower was accustomed to having his wishes become commands, but in this case the offending animals were caught and removed.
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