White House Putting Green: A Brief History
Play It Where It Lies, Mr. President
The White House Putting Green lies a short walk outside the Oval Office door to the southeast. A putting green was first installed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954 with help from the United States Golf Association and private donations. Ike had difficulty keeping the squirrels (which Harry Truman had nearly tamed by hand-feeding them) from burying nuts in the green and joked that the Secret Service should shoot them. He resorted to having the groundkeeping staff trap and relocate them. Eisenhower was a very avid golfer and was sometimes criticized for it, but he and his doctor readily defended the habit as good for his health, which had suffered during his presidency.
Most modern presidents after Ike have been avid golfers, including his successor, John Kennedy, who, sensitive to the criticism aimed at Eisenhower for golfing on weekday afternoons, kept his habit a closely-guarded secret and even let Eisenhower’s putting green grow out, although it was later renovated. Other avid golfers include Gerald Ford, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W Bush. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan were casual golfers.
Bill Clinton had the putting green moved to its current location and—according to Time in 1995—designed by golf course architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. The Clinton green is 1,500 sq. ft. of southshore creeping bentgrass.