Our views: U.S. leaders love golf

Given the tensions in Washington. D.C., these days in the wake of a government shutdown, it’s not likely that we’re going to see President Barack Obama playing golf right now. The timing isn’t right for a commander-in-chief to be swinging his club across a putting tee.

But in more ideal circumstances, the sport can be a good way for chief executives to let off steam.

All of this comes to mind because former president George W. Bush recently came to the defense of his successor on the question of golf. Bush, himself an avid player, said he thought it was a good thing for President Barack Obama to get out on the green, too. Bush said he disagreed with critics who’ve suggested that Obama plays his nine holes a bit too much. Bush recommended the game as a good break from the pressures of high office.

The presidency has had more than its share of golfers, including Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald R. Ford, but perhaps none more avid that Woodrow Wilson, who’s the subject of a new biography by A. Scott Berg.

Berg notes that Wilson, who suffered from hypertension, played golf as part of an exercise regimen prescribed by his doctor. “He played golf every morning — at least nine holes, knowing that he could play 18 on weekends,” Berg tells readers. “In the winter, the White House staff painted his golf balls red, so that he could spot them more easily on the snow-covered links.”

We don’t know if most golfers would find that golf reduces blood pressure; they might often find, after an afternoon in a sand trap, that it accomplishes the opposite. Even so, to paraphrase a proverb about the game, a bad day on the golf course probably beats a good day in the Oval Office.