Golf is the favorite sport of America's presidents, and an award-winning New York Times reporter tells great stories that show why it's so much more than a game for them
Some students of the presidency say that we can learn the most about the men who've occupied the Oval Office by studying their ideology. Others say political savvy or family background or regional influences are paramount. But Don Van Natta argues for another standardóby observing the way they play golf.
Fourteen of the last seventeen presidents have been golfers, and Van Natta explores two questions: Why is the game of golf so attractive to the men who occupy the Oval Office? And what do their golf games reveal about their characters? Some presidents relied on golf to escape the burdens of office, while others brought those burdens with them. And few have been able to resist the perks of high office, bending the rules and freely taking mulligans. Is it really surprising to learn that the section called "Hail to the Cheats" features the golfing escapades of Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, and Warren Harding?
Not content to rely solely on the history books, Van Natta takes the reader on a round of golf he recently played with Bill Clinton and draws on extensive interviews with the golfing ex-presidents about what the game means to them. For history buffs and golf aficionados alike, First Off the Tee is a cheerful romp and a unique way to share the links with America's duffers-in-chief.
Don Van Natta, Jr., is a Washington correspondent for The New York Times. He was a reporter for The Miami Herald before joining the Times in 1995, and he has been a member of two Times reporting teams that were awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He is also a 100-plus golfer who once shot an ugly hole-in-one. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Alexandria, Virginia.
Pub date: 03/27/03
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