Club of Presidents
Often it is mere moments that in a second or two impact the history of an organization. One of those moments was in 1954 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower began his friendship and association with Thunderbird Country Club. President Eisenhower (Ike to his Thunderbird friends) first visited the Club in 1954 alongside his Secret Service all reportedly packing heat in their golf bags. Ike battled heart problems and enjoyed the luxury of playing golf at Thunderbird in a golf cart. Ike was just the beginning of Thunderbird’s friendship with 7 American Presidents three choosing to become members
President Eisenhower became a Thunderbird Member in 1961. The world’s most famous amateur golfer of the day, President Eisenhower was often seen playing 18-holes with fellow Thunderbird Members Leonard Firestone, Johnny Dawson and Bob Breech, son of Ford Chairman and fellow member Earnest Breech. President Eisenhower on two occasions brought his Vice President Richard Nixon to play golf at Thunderbird. He was also responsible for President Lyndon Johnson visiting Thunderbird and playing the course on a number of occasions.
In 1975, Gerald and Betty Ford, built a house on the 13th hole, joined the Club and become “one of the guys.” It was not unusual to see President Ford playing in the Saturday choose ups, practicing on the range or for he and Betty dining at the Club. Past President Barack Obama has challenged the course with his playing aptitude and for a fellow member following a recent game stated that President Obama has a very respectable game.
Socially the Club has hosted Past President H.W. Bush a close friend of Carol Channing’s (Thunderbird Member). In 1963, just months before his death, President John F. Kennedy visited Thunderbird as part of his visit to the Coachella Valley. The Club is honored that these prestigious Americans have found peace and delight following a small white ball around the Thunderbird links.