VIDEO: Bush leaves legacy of passion for golf and fast play

As much as former President George H.W. Bush loved golf, he wasnever on the course very long.

For all his passion and heritage in golf - his grandfather andfather were USGA presidents - the 41st president was mainly knownfor being the best example of the Rule 6-7: ''Play without unduedelay.''

Davis Love III discovered this during one outing at Cape ArundelGolf Club in Kennebunkport, Maine.

''We were playing and one of the Secret Service guys, his phonestarts ringing,'' Love said. ''He said, `Mr. President, it'sPresident Clinton.' And President Bush says, `Well, I'm hitting.'He hands me the phone and says, `Talk to him for a second.' So I'mthere talking to President Clinton while President Bush is hittinghis 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 GolfHall of Fame, in 2011, two years after President Dwight D.Eisenhower, and his involvement went well beyond the golf he playedso quickly.

He was honorary chairman of The First Tee, the program that beganin 1997 to bring golf's core values to kids. He was chairman of thePresidents Cup, and stayed involved by rarely missing the biennialmatch, whether it was in Australia or South Africa.

Former PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said at Bush's inductionceremony that The First Tee had reached 4.7 million youngsters and''but for President Bush, that would not have happened.''

''He attended openings of facilities. He wrote letters to peoplethat gave money. He traveled, he spoke, he got on the telephone,''Finchem said. ''He wasn't a chairman in name only. He worked atit.''

Instead of ribbons, which are hard to find on short notice in theBahamas, some players at the Hero World Challenge wrote ''41'' ontheir caps.

Love was among the regulars whom Bush would invite to Kennebunkportfor golf; Love said they were treated like family.

''He was so excited about Fred Couples or me or Brad Faxon tryingto beat the course record at Cape Arundel,'' Love said. ''We wantedto go fishing or play horseshoes, and he wanted to play golf. Butit only took us three hours. He just loved being out there.''

The running joke at Cape Arundel is that Bush used to claim he hadthe course record - not a score, but fastest to play 18 holes. Healso claimed to have his name on at least one trophy, saying in2011 that he once captured the club championship.

''I dusted a guy named Chad Brown,'' Bush said. ''My name isembellished there. It's on the board. You can't take it away fromme.''

His golf heritage dates to his maternal grandfather, George H.Walker, after whom the Walker Cup is named. His father, PrescottBush, 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 - theDistinguished Service Award from the PGA of America in 1997; theBob Jones Award from the USGA in 2008; the Lifetime AchievementAward in 2009; and the Hall of Fame in 2011.

''From his love of playing to his selfless dedication and support,golf held a special place for President Bush,'' Finchem said. ''Hewas the consummate ambassador for golf.''

Bush was part of the presidential trio that played in the 2005 BobHope Classic, joining former Presidents Bill Clinton and GeraldFord. He hit two spectators, one man in the back of the leg and onewoman on the bridge of her nose, drawing blood.

More than the golf, however, Love kept referencing relationshipsBush forged as he told stories for 10 minutes uninterrupted.

''He treated every single person the same,'' Love said.

Love recalled 2001, when Bush came to St. Simons Island, Georgia,for the Walker Cup and stayed with Love.

''We had this party for both teams at our house,'' Love said. ''Ihad put in a horseshoe pit because he was coming, and he's going toplay the first game. He's all excited. But after about fiveminutes, he looks over his shoulder and said: `This is rude. Weought to go back to the party.' So here's the president, dictatingwhat we should be doing. He went over to the pool, and all the SeaIsland employees who were working the party, he walked down theline and introduced himself.''

 

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