President George H.W. Bush, Honorary Chairman
The First Tee 1997-2011
Commissioner Finchem statement on President Bush
As we join the world in mourning President Bush’s passing, the PGA TOUR and entire golf community share a deep appreciation for all that he meant to our sport. From his love of playing to his selfless dedication and support, golf held a special place for President Bush.
He was the consummate ambassador for golf and collectively, the golf community was privileged to induct him into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011 and present him with several of the sport’s highest awards, including the USGA’s Bob Jones Award in 2008, the PGA TOUR Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and the American Society of Golf Course Architects’ 2018 Donald Ross Award.
President Bush’s passion came honestly as golf was inextricably linked to his family, from a grandfather who became the 14th president of the USGA in 1920 and donated the trophy that would become the Walker Cup, to having a father who served as USGA president in 1935. President Bush graciously served as Honorary Chairman of the 1996 Presidents Cup and had such a presence thereafter, even attending the matches in Australia and South Africa. He loved to interface with the players and hosted a number of them at his home course in Maine.
When The First Tee was evolving from concept to reality, we recognized the need for strong leadership in order for the initiative to succeed, and President Bush was the logical choice. He became the first Honorary Chairman in 1997 and it was a role he took very seriously, including participation at the annual conference and helping to open several chapters around the country. His contributions were immeasurable, helping to establish The First Tee’s legitimacy and the extraordinary success it has enjoyed over the past two decades. He also was a big advocate for his son, George, to take reigns as Honorary Chairman after he stepped down. And in his own right, Bush 43 has been equally engaged and has had a significant impact on The First Tee’s continued success and growth.
Add it all up, and we truly are fortunate to have had such an esteemed and compassionate individual serve as a strong advocate for golf and be so generous with his time and skills to promote the game he loved. We owe him a great debt for shaping what golf is all about today. President Bush will be greatly missed.