From the Archives: George H.W. Bush, Country’s Most Sporting President, is Going to the World Golf Hall of Fame

via Forbes | Originally published Feb 10, 2011 | By Monte Burke

Former President George H.W. Bush will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May. It’s an honor that’s long overdue.

Bush may not have been the most athletic president in U.S. history, but he is inarguably the most sporting. Last year, I went down the Houston to interview him about sports and the role they played in his life and presidency. Somehow, among the tennis, baseball, skydiving, biking, running, fishing and hunting, H.W. managed to squeeze in quite a bit of golf. (Golf Digest has him ranked as the 5th-best golfing president, three spots ahead of our golf-mad current president.) He has long been one of the game’s great ambassadors.

A few interesting golf-related things I learned while doing the article:

— Bush’s grandfather George Herbert Walker was a scratch golfer, president of the U.S. Golf Association and founder of the biennial Walker Cup Match. His father, Prescott Bush, a senator from Connecticut, also was a USGA president.

— Bush played famously fast rounds of golf and bragged that he held the course record at Cape Arundel, his home course in Maine. “People would always say, ‘What’s the record? 67? 68?'” recalls Ken Raynor, Bush’s pro there. “I’d reply, ‘No, it’s an hour and twenty-four minutes.'”

— Sports have allowed this polite man to be a little impolitic. Paul Marchand, a golf pro at Shadow Hawk golf club near Houston, recalls a match in which he and Bush played against Arnold Palmer and another golfer. “Palmer was standing over a putt on the 18th green, his knees knocked, ready to hit it, when the President suddenly said, ‘Arnold, you know if you miss this, we win the match,'” says Marchand. Palmer smiled and sank the putt.

— Bush has a putting green at his house in Kennebunkport where he holds high-spirited putting matches. He recently challenged CBS Sports commentator Jim Nantz to a contest. “He got former PGA Tour player Deane Beman as his partner,” says Nantz. “They won.”

Other 2011 World Golf Hall of Fame inductees include Ernie Els, Jumbo Ozaki, Doug Ford, Jock Hutchison and Frank Chirkinian.