Why do US presidents play golf?
It varies, somewhat.
When Presidents Play Golf, JUN 18, 2011.
Obama is the 17th president to golf since William McKinley made the first presidential putt in 1897. In the 114 years since, Teddy Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, and Jimmy Carter were the only nongolfing presidents.
Nixon clearly was the exception. Other presidents have been drawn to the game because it relaxed them and offered a diversion from the cares of office. Woodrow Wilson found golf essential during World War I, often taking to the links daily.
[These Are All of the Presidents Who Loved Playing Golf, Including Donald Trump](https://www.cheatsheet.com/culture/presidents-who-loved-playing-golf-including-donald-trump.html/}, November 28, 2018.
Some presidents have used golf to escape politics. But others have deftly combined the two. Lyndon B. Johnson falls in the latter group, as Golf Advisor reports that Johnson “played with an ulterior motive after realizing golf was the perfect activity for political negotiations.”
Johnson got the votes he needed to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on the course.
Trump played golf 19 times in his first 100 days — here's why American presidents have been historically obsessed with the game, Apr 29, 2017.
Trostel explained then that the first American president to golf while in office was William Taft, commander-in-chief from 1909 to 1913, who picked up the sport because he wanted exercise that would suit his rather hefty frame.
[Trump has] previously defended games with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Sen. Rand Paul as being conducive to deal-making, ...
Different presidents have used golf for different things. Lyndon B. Johnson liked to bring politics onto the course, but Clinton, in an impassioned defense of playing golf as president, told Golf Digest in 2012 that golf was a perfect way for presidents to escape the White House and renew mind and body.
"Presidents need to rest their minds, not just their bodies," Clinton said. "They need the exercise, the fresh air. And they need to do something that, literally, takes them away from what they're doing."
My experience with golf is consistent with the exercise, escape, diversion benefit. As an embedded systems programmer, during a time (1980s-90s) that required physical replacement of the device holding the program (PROM); a mistake could wipe out the profit from the sale of the hardware containing the program and damage the company's reputation.
Sometimes I would play (walking) in the morning for exercise. Other times I would play (walking) in the afternoon (with no one else on the course, even with temperatures in the upper 90s and a heat index of 105 F), as a diversion, so that I could consider, anew, solutions to solve a problem. [The president of the company provided golf balls.]