Bush leaves deep-rooted legacy of golf

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Doug Fer­gu­son

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.

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