A Presidential Beginning
It was a scene to behold at Congressional Country Club on a sunny Wednesday morning, as fans, soldiers, helicopters and then World No. 1 Tiger Woods approached the first tee. You could expect this moment to be special, as it was just a day before the inaugural National in 2007, signifying a rebirth of golf in the nation’s capital. But this moment was much more than a ceremonial tee shot; a former United States president was present to commence this historic event.
George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, surrounded by secret service members and thousands of onlookers, rode to the tee box in a golf cart alongside Woods. Bush, who showed a patriotic flair wearing an American flag belt, was given the honor of hitting the first tee shot in tournament history.
Golf played a crucial role in Bush’s upbringing, with his father Prescott Bush being the president of the USGA in 1935. Bush himself became an avid player throughout his presidency, eventually winning the PGA of America Distinguished Service Award in 1997. He was later inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May 2011.
As the former president set foot on the first tee, service men and women surrounded the tee box to show their respects. Simultaneously, many fans helped unravel a large American flag just left of the opening fairway. It was an unforgettable moment for the D.C. golf fans in attendance with golf’s top star and a former president in tow to commemorate this epic beginning.
Bush, electing to use driver on the opening Par 4, made sure to send a stern warning to the patrons gathered. With his signature presidential humor, he jokingly told The Associated Press, “If anyone laughs when I hit it, they are dead. We got the Secret Service here to look after me.”