by Robert Bicknell
One of the worst things you can do during a round of golf is look at your score card. I’ve found it’s often much better to just play the game and see how you did afterwards. Counting coup (an old Native American Indian term) during the round is too much of a distraction.
It could be said that former George Herbert Walker Bush, 41st US president lived his whole life without keeping score, but his life scorecard is worthy of respect. He died on 30 November and, thus, golf lost one of its biggest supporters, and the world lost an amazing man.
Being President of the United States would seem like enough of an achievement for one person, unless that man was George Bush, who believed the best thing you could do was to help others. Service was his calling, as he demonstrated in public life as a war hero, Congressman, Ambassador to the United Nations, CIA Director, Vice President and President.
Even afterwards, he went on to form a true “Odd Couple” with another former US President, Bill Clinton, and together they raised millions of dollars for the tsunami victims in 2005. When Hurricane Katrina struck, the Odd Couple swung back into action raising US$130 million for the victims and then, yet again for Hurricane Ike in 2008.
When tragedy struck Haiti in 2010, Clinton teamed up with GHWB’s son, George W. Bush (43rd president) to raise $54.4 million for their recovery. Charity and serving others seems to be a Bush family mantra.
He similarly served the game of golf selflessly and did so with honour and distinction and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 through the Lifetime Achievement category. He also received the Bob Jones Award in 2014, the highest honour given by the US Golf Association.
His golf pedigree can be found in his name. George Herbert Walker was his maternal grandfather, a former president of the United States Golf Association, who was instrumental in the founding of the biennial amateur competition that bears his name, the Walker Cup. Bush’s father, Prescott Bush, was also a former USGA president and a scratch golfer who impressed upon his son the importance of playing golf at a fast pace.
Tiger Woods played a round with the former president in Houston back in the day, and Bush was quite quick out there and they finished 18 holes in probably under two and a half hours according to Woods.
Tiger described Bush’s speed of play as “… basically club, ball, one look, gone.”
The former president often boasted that he held the course record at Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport, Maine… the speed record that is. Try 18 holes in an hour and 20 minutes.
Don’t you wish players in Viet Nam had the same desire for fast play instead of acting as if the outcome of the Masters hung precariously on every shot? It’s getting ridiculous out there to say the least.
Bush accepted the position of Honorary Chairman of “The First Tee” when it was founded in 1997. At a World Golf Hall of Fame news conference in 2011, former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem noted “4.7 million young people in the United States have been touched by The First Tee program. But for President Bush, that would not have happened.
“He attended openings of facilities. He wrote letters to people who gave money,” Finchem continued.
“He travelled, he spoke, he got on the telephone. He wasn’t a chairman in name only. He worked at it. But because of his lending his prestige and image and commitment and enthusiasm to what The First Tee is it’s the success it is today.”
The major golf organizations in the US all recognized his contributions to the game.
In 1997, he received the PGA of America’s Distinguished Service Award; 2008 the USGA the Bob Jones Award, recognizing distinguished sportsmanship; 2009 the PGA Tour awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award; and the American Society of Golf Course Architects honored him with its Donald Ross Award.
In today’s seemingly disposable society where everything begs to be replaced, GHW Bush and his wife Barbara demonstrated the meaning of commitment.
They were married for 73 years, and now, fittingly, they are together again. VNS