“DID YOU KNOW”
The PGA Built a Practice Green for President Eisenhower!
In the late summer of 1955 Reading Country Club professional Henry Poe, who was president of the Philadelphia Section PGA, received a telephone call from Harry Moffitt, the president of the PGA of America. Harry Moffitt asked Poe if Reading was anywhere near Gettysburg. He told Poe that the PGA wanted to build a putting green for President Eisenhower at his Gettysburg farm. Poe then called on the green superintendents from the Country Club of York and the Lancaster Country Club to ask for their help. They assisted Poe in designing and building a 9,000 square foot green with an approach for chipping.
By the time the green was completed it was getting late in the year. Poe didn’t want the President to wait nine months for a seeded green to grow in but he didn’t have the proper sod. Poe then received a telephone call from Eugene Grace, the president of Bethlehem Steel. He said I understand that you are building a putting green for President Eisenhower. Grace said that Bethlehem Steel, which owned the Saucon Valley Country Club, would like to donate the sod. Their men would install it at no charge but they couldn’t get there until the next day. The only stipulation was that the PGA couldn’t tell anyone who had provided the sod. One of the major golf course equipment companies donated the mowers. The construction of the putting green turned out to be timely. President Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in September and spent seven weeks in the hospital. After leaving the hospital on November 11 he went to his Gettysburg farm to recuperate. His heart specialist reported that it was quite likely that the President would eventually get back to regular rounds of golf and hopefully he would be able to get in some practice on his new putting green before the end of the year. Three months later he announced that he was running for reelection and in November he was elected for a second term.
If you visit Gettysburg and the Eisenhower Farm, and it is a very worthwhile trip, you won’t see the green that the PGA built. When President Eisenhower died in 1969 Mrs. Eisenhower had the green removed because it reminded her of how bored she always was, watching Ike practice his chipping and putting for hour after hour on that green.
A small grassed over mound with a flagstick, which is a poor excuse for a golf green, was put there after Mrs. Eisenhower died in an attempt to show the farm as it was when the President of the United States lived there. Much to the PGA of America’s regret each tour guide tells the visitors to the farm that the green was a gift to President Eisenhower from the PGA of America.