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First Off The Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers, And Cheaters From Taft To Bush

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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 standard—by observing the way they play golf. Fourteen of the last seventeen presidents have been golfers, and Van 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 standard—by 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.


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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 standard—by observing the way they play golf. Fourteen of the last seventeen presidents have been golfers, and Van 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 standard—by 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.

30 review for First Off The Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers, And Cheaters From Taft To Bush

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    If you like golf and politics, this is a fun book for the nightstand, as the author shares great--and greatly entertaining--stories of each of our presidents who has ever swung a club.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chuck Gerber

    This book was a gift to me by a very "thoughtful" friend who rescued it from the near bottom of the bargain bin @Barnes & Noble in Midtown. I happened to notice it last week while searching the bookshelves(some 15 years later) for a new book to take to work at a golf pro shop. Other than the poor grammar and stories, the book is mildly entertaining. A more truthful perspective into these guys might have made for a better piece. I find the Clinton stories a sad introspective into a pretty sad cha This book was a gift to me by a very "thoughtful" friend who rescued it from the near bottom of the bargain bin @Barnes & Noble in Midtown. I happened to notice it last week while searching the bookshelves(some 15 years later) for a new book to take to work at a golf pro shop. Other than the poor grammar and stories, the book is mildly entertaining. A more truthful perspective into these guys might have made for a better piece. I find the Clinton stories a sad introspective into a pretty sad character. Thankfully, this was written well before this country was blessed with the presence of obama. Can't even begin to imagine those strories.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andy Trawick

    This book is so good, I've read it three times! This book is so good, I've read it three times!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    Loved this book, and have given it as a gift to non-golfers who are more interested in presidential history than golf. Each president since William Howard Taft is covered and placed into categories: The Purists (JFK, Ike, etc.), Worst Off the Tee, Hail to the Cheats, and a section on the Bushes. Many golfers believe that you can know a lot about a person based on how they treat the rules of golf. While I did not vote for Bill in 1992 (and still can hardly believe that he defeated Bush), I will a Loved this book, and have given it as a gift to non-golfers who are more interested in presidential history than golf. Each president since William Howard Taft is covered and placed into categories: The Purists (JFK, Ike, etc.), Worst Off the Tee, Hail to the Cheats, and a section on the Bushes. Many golfers believe that you can know a lot about a person based on how they treat the rules of golf. While I did not vote for Bill in 1992 (and still can hardly believe that he defeated Bush), I will admit that he has many fine qualities including teaming up with President Bush (#41) to raise money for various natural disasters including Hurricane Rita (hit my area in 2005). It will come as no surprise to his fans and detractors to find that Bill Clinton is known for his desire to take extra shots, known as mulligans in the game of golf. To be fair, he claimed that it was his way of practicing, but he would take so many extra shots during a round that things became quite confusing as to which was the actual ball in play. His way of using these extra shots came to be known as "Billigans".

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book is more about each president's connection with the game than it is their politics. There's a couple vague attempts at connecting policies to the performance on the greens, but for the most part the book focuses on the frequency of playing, how they played (handicap) and provides a few fun anecdotes for each Commander and Chief. If you only have a passing interest in golf, but an active interest in history - you will still find this book enjoying. I have never golfed but read it and enj This book is more about each president's connection with the game than it is their politics. There's a couple vague attempts at connecting policies to the performance on the greens, but for the most part the book focuses on the frequency of playing, how they played (handicap) and provides a few fun anecdotes for each Commander and Chief. If you only have a passing interest in golf, but an active interest in history - you will still find this book enjoying. I have never golfed but read it and enjoyed it; then I gave it to my dad, an avid golfer, who also enjoyed it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Schnell

    If you enjoy golf you will enjoy this book. I am surprised by the low ranking on Goodreads, it is better than the 3.00 it has. I really enjoyed learning about the golfing presidents. However, the authors bias to 41 and 43 really irritated me. The time spent bashing 42 didn't sit well either. If you like golf and are a conservative you will LOVE this book, but if you can leave the politics out of it you will enjoy regardless. If you enjoy golf you will enjoy this book. I am surprised by the low ranking on Goodreads, it is better than the 3.00 it has. I really enjoyed learning about the golfing presidents. However, the authors bias to 41 and 43 really irritated me. The time spent bashing 42 didn't sit well either. If you like golf and are a conservative you will LOVE this book, but if you can leave the politics out of it you will enjoy regardless.

  7. 5 out of 5

    L

    Very clever premise - each chapter is devoted to a different president's golf game. Through golf, the reader gains insight into each president as a person and as a leader. Some chapters were more interesting than others, and some presidents' characters were more fully developed than others, but overall a very interesting read. Definitely recommend this to anyone who likes golf and politics or history. Very clever premise - each chapter is devoted to a different president's golf game. Through golf, the reader gains insight into each president as a person and as a leader. Some chapters were more interesting than others, and some presidents' characters were more fully developed than others, but overall a very interesting read. Definitely recommend this to anyone who likes golf and politics or history.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    An interesting twist on traditional presidential histories. You don't have to play golf (as I do not) to appreciate what Van Natta has to say about how presidential golf games reveal a great deal about the Presidents' characters. My one note of criticism would be Van Natta's blatant partisanship. I believe this indicates a great deal about his inability to be impartial in his more serious reporting duties at The New York Times. An interesting twist on traditional presidential histories. You don't have to play golf (as I do not) to appreciate what Van Natta has to say about how presidential golf games reveal a great deal about the Presidents' characters. My one note of criticism would be Van Natta's blatant partisanship. I believe this indicates a great deal about his inability to be impartial in his more serious reporting duties at The New York Times.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Bay

    Entertaining and pretty informative. I caught one error. He said that Ronald Reagan went to Eureka College in Peoria, Illinois. Eureka College is in Eureka, Illinois near Peoria, but across a river and into the next county.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    Whether you're a fan of golf, a fan of the Presidency, or both, this book provides enlightening details about the golf games of our Presidents and how the character of these great men translated to the links. Whether you're a fan of golf, a fan of the Presidency, or both, this book provides enlightening details about the golf games of our Presidents and how the character of these great men translated to the links.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Stetz

    Some legendary Bill Clinton golf stories......liked the "Billigans". Some legendary Bill Clinton golf stories......liked the "Billigans".

  12. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    A fine combination of two important interests of mine, golf and the presidency. It's a quick and fun read. A fine combination of two important interests of mine, golf and the presidency. It's a quick and fun read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    KD Beard

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn McDonough

  15. 4 out of 5

    James

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Linton

  17. 5 out of 5

    Frank

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jake Elwell

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike Selk

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Phillips

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rich

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bill

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brian Loutzenhiser

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  28. 4 out of 5

    Robert Alexander

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erik Cote

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

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