Bush leaves deep-rooted legacy of golf
As much as former President George H.W. Bush loved golf, he was never on the course very long.
For all his passion and heritage in golf — his grandfather and father were USGA presidents — the 41st president was mainly known for being the best example of the Rule 6-7: “Play without undue delay.”
Davis Love III discovered this during one outing at Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport, Maine.
“We were playing and one of the Secret Service guys, his phone starts ringing,” Love said. “He said, ‘Mr. President, it’s President Clinton.’ And President Bush says, ‘Well, I’m hitting.’ He hands me the phone and says, ‘Talk to him for a second.’ So I’m there talking to President Clinton while President Bush is hitting his shot. You just never knew what was going to happen next.”
Bush died Friday night at his home in Houston at age 94.
He was one of two presidents to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, in 2011, two years after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and his involvement went well beyond the golf he played so quickly.
He was honorary chairman of The First Tee, the program that began in 1997 to bring golf ’s core values to kids. He was chairman of the Presidents Cup, and stayed involved by rarely missing the biennial match, whether it was in Australia or South Africa.
Love was among the regulars whom Bush would invite to Kennebunkport for golf; Love said they were treated like family.
“He was so excited about Fred Couples or me or Brad Faxon trying to beat the course record at Cape Arundel,” Love said. “We wanted to go fishing or play horseshoes, and he wanted to play golf. But it only took us three hours. He just loved being out there.”
The running joke at Cape Arundel is that Bush used to claim he had the course record — not a score, but fastest to play 18 holes.
Tiger Woods, who played with Bush in Houston while still an amateur, could attest to that.
“It was basically club, ball, one look, gone,” he said.
His golf heritage dates to his maternal grandfather, George H. Walker, after whom the Walker Cup is named. His father, Prescott Bush, was a scratch golfer.
“There’s a genetic shortfall and it never took,” Bush once said. “Except that I loved the game.”
Bush was honored by all the major golf organizations — the Distinguished Service Award from the PGA of America in 1997; the Bob Jones Award from the USGA in 2008; the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009; and the Hall of Fame in 2011.