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April 23, 2005

George H.W. Bush

Barbara Bush

Rob Hungate



ROB HUNGATE: We welcome everyone here today. My name is Rob Hungate, and on behalf of the Houston Golf Association, we want to make a donation today for Tsunami Relief Fund that was started by Presidents Bush and Clinton in the amount of $5,000.

The golf community has really been behind this effort. In fact, the goal of the Fund itself was just at $2 million, and today we're really happy to say it's at $2.2 million. So on behalf of the Houston Golf Association we applaud your efforts to help those in need over in Asia, and we hope that number continues to grow.

Over lunch we were talking about how big the number is, and I know he'll share that with you here a little bit later, but it's just amazing, the worldwide help that's gone toward this cause, and we're really proud just to be playing a real small part in it. Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT BUSH: My thanks to the HGA, not just for this generous support for tsunami relief but for all they do for golf. The First Tee program comes to mind. They're a great group. They do a lot for the game, which is important, and I'm very grateful, so thank you very much.

If anyone wants to ask a question or two, I'd be glad to respond. If not, I'll get Barbara to answer it (laughter). She's the enforcer, the runner of the Bush family, and that includes every one of us.

Q. You're still active in the game, still love to play. What is it that keeps you coming back to golf after all these years?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Oh, the feeling you can do better. I like the competitive nature of it, playing against other people, but it's really a great, for me, relaxant at this stage in my life. Barbara feels the same way. No matter how bad you are, the good thing about golf is you can stay in the game. You get plenty of strokes, you're right in there with the rest of them.

I like the way golf players adhere to the rules, stand up for the fine points of the game. That's one thing about our First Tee program, for which I'm the honorary national chairman, and I've been to a lot of the openings for those facilities, but the common theme is teaching these kids not just to hit a golf ball but teaching them how to play by the rules and the ethics and the traditions of the game.

That has been a great thing in my life and this tsunami relief effort with President Clinton has been rewarding. People say how can you two people who come from very different poles politically, to say nothing for working for the same cause. The answer is for things much bigger than your own self, you lay aside political differences, and he's been a joy to work with.

I think he's coming to Houston very soon for another presentation, major closing out of the Bush-Clinton fund, and then I'll be with him up in the East for another event, and so it goes on. He's been a great pleasure to work with.

I don't agree with the president of the United States who said at the Gridiron Dinner when President Clinton came out from his anesthetic, he was "greeted by his loved ones, Hilary, Chelsea and my dad" (laughter). That's not quite where we stand, but I have a lot of respect for the man, and it was a joy traveling with him to Asia, and I'm, again, very appreciative of your support, sir.

Q. Do you still play one of the quickest rounds of golf?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Still play one of the quickest, and I know the guys that I've played with won't believe it, but even worse playing. But it doesn't matter. It does not matter at this stage in my life, I just like being out there.

I re-gave it up out in California a few weeks ago, but I'm back. I'm going to play out there with Jim Nantz and Paul Marshon next week, and I'm ready.

Q. Did you always play fast or is that something you got from your parents?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My dad was a great golfer, scratch player, a lot of his adult life, and he believed in playing along and not delaying things, and I don't know why, but I enjoy it. Once at Jack Nicklaus' Captain's Club, they to my embarrassment, he and Palmer were there, Dickerson, a whole bunch of people, and they said, "now we have a toast to the guy who's done so much for the game of golf," and I look at all these greats, and he said, "President George Bush down there." "Me"? "Yeah, you learned to play fast and you're teaching others to play fast, and you have to do that because some of these kids are too slow, these new guys on the game." I was very flattered and went like this (indicating), you know, and I think it's important but not to do it the way I do it. You've got to concentrate a little more. If I were a good player, I would concentrate more, but I think these rounds of five hours and stuff are too much. It's not good for the game of golf. It's not good when you're out on the public links or a club or something when you're denying other people the right to play by stalling around, plumb bobbing putts when you've got about a 30 handicap like me. It doesn't make any sense.

Q. Who would win a match between your sons on the golf course?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Today, what do you think, Jebbie?

BARBARA BUSH: Among the sons? I thought you meant against their father. That's a no-brainer.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I think Jeb is our best golfer in Florida. He's about a single digit. The president, if he played at all, would be around 15, Neal would be about a 15 and Marvin would be about a 15. Maybe he's a little better than that.

We don't have any scratch players. It's been a generational thing, DNA went down. It's a DNA thing (laughter). Okay, guys, thank you, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts.

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