ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. --- Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose passion for golf helped to boost its popularity after World War II, was selected Friday to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
He will be the first U.S. president in the Hall of Fame when he is inducted posthumously Nov. 2 at the World Golf Village.
"One would be hard-pressed to find any single person who did more to popularize the game of golf, not only in the United States but throughout the world, than President Eisenhower," Arnold Palmer said. "His visibility, coupled with his passion for the game, were the inspiration for literally millions of people picking up the game for the first time.
"Those involved in golf today owe him a great debt of gratitude."
Eisenhower was a member of Augusta National Golf Club and close friends with the late Clifford Roberts, who co-founded the home of the Masters Tournament along with amateur great Bobby Jones.
Even now, the former president's influence is felt each April during the Masters.
The tee shot on the 17th is difficult because of the "Eisenhower Tree," a loblolly pine that is 65 feet high, more than 100 years old and about 210 yards off the tee down the left side. It gave Ike fits during many rounds.
After his election in 1953, club members built a special cabin for him -- The Eisenhower Cabin. He also has a pond named after him on the Par-3 Course called "Ike's Pond."
According to First Off The Tee, a book on U.S. presidents who played golf, 3.2 million Americans played golf when Eisenhower took office in January 1953, a number that had doubled when he left office.
"That such a man was devoted to golf did much to popularize and raise the stature of our sport," said Peter Dawson, chief executive of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club.
Photos: Eisenhower in Augusta