The Washington Post reported Wednesday that President (and avid golfer) Donald Trump recently installed a golf simulator at the White House, replacing an older simulator that had been used by President Obama.
But the golf simulator is hardly the only sports fixture on White House grounds.
Since 1902, when Theodore Roosevelt’s tennis court was built behind the West Wing, sports infrastructure at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has continued to grow, allowing 20 U.S. presidents to keep up their favorite athletic pursuits without having to venture outside the grounds.
Here’s a brief history of sports facilities at the White House, according to information from the White House Historical Association, news reports, the Library of Congress and various presidential libraries.
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The tennis court
The longest-standing sports fixture at the White House has moved a few times over the past century, and it’s now hidden by trees in a southern area of the grounds. Roosevelt was a big-time tennis player, as were more recent presidents like the late George H.W. Bush, who considered himself to be “a pretty good tennis player.”
The White House tennis court also played a role in a presidential tragedy in the 1920s, when Calvin Coolidge’s son got a blister on his toe while playing tennis with his brother, John, and died of a subsequent blood infection. He was just 16 at the time of his death.
The basketball court(s)
George H.W. Bush had a half-court built on the White House grounds in 1991 and invited the most recent NCAA men’s and women’s champions (Duke and Tennessee, respectively) to help christen it with a pickup game. The court measures 26 feet by 26 feet, according to United Press International, and was paid for with government funds.
More recently, President Obama adapted the White House’s tennis court area to allow for a full-size court. According to GQ, he would regularly play pickup games with staffers, or challenge guests to friendly games of H-O-R-S-E or P-I-G.
The swimming pool
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who used swimming as a means of therapy while dealing with polio, orchestrated the construction a heated indoor pool at the White House in 1933.
A little more than three decades later, under President Richard Nixon, a press briefing room was constructed directly above it. That space — now known as the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room — is still used today, while the pool sits dormant below.
The White House also has an outdoor pool, built in 1975 during the Gerald Ford administration.
“I swim every day. I swam last night at 10:30. Come out and join me sometime,” Ford jokingly told reporters in 1976.
The jogging track
According to The New York Daily News, a quarter-mile jogging track was built at the White House during President Bill Clinton’s first term — but he rarely used it. White House spokesperson Arthur Jones once said Clinton would sometimes start his runs on the track before taking off to chart his own trail, with Secret Service agents close behind.
The bowling alley
President Harry Truman first oversaw the installation of White House bowling lanes in 1947, but the lanes were later relocated to what is now the Old Executive Office Building. A new one-lane bowling alley was built in 1969, with Nixon, an avid bowler, in the White House.
Obama mused about removing the bowling alley, but eventually conceded that it had helped him “greatly improve” his game.
“We do have a bowling alley here at the White House and I’ve gotten a lot better,” Obama told TNT’s Marv Albert in 2010.
The putting green
President Dwight D. Eisenhower — who played hundreds of rounds of golf while in office — had a small putting green installed on the White House grounds in 1954.
“I remember that he would be sitting at his desk when the last visitor went out the door. He would slowly put on his golf cleats and his cap, take off his coat and wander into the backyard to putt,” Eisenhower’s nephew, David, told the U.S. Golf Association in 2013.
According to the WHHA, a new putting area was built in 1996 — proving that, even though the technology has changed, golf’s presence at the White House is hardly new.
Contact Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.