One nation under golfers: Imagining a utopian America where the game is available to all
This email arrived in my inbox on Tuesday, below this subject line: Deleted material, Inaugural Address. I have not been able to establish who sent it or the authenticity of its contents.
One of my father’s heroes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, reinvented this country with his New Deal, with WPA projects that employed millions. We still enjoy the fruits of their labors. Post offices. Bridges and tunnels. Public golf courses.
Though anybody who has played Bethpage Black might say joy doesn’t spring to mind.
[Pause HERE. Look at Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton.]
There’s almost nothing good you could say about this pandemic that has gripped our nation these past 10 months, except for this: It has encouraged millions of Americans to seek outdoor recreation. Record numbers of us have visited our parks and beaches, local, state and federal. And our public golf courses.
Public golf has enjoyed a surge in popularity that brings to mind the rush to the tee that Arnold Palmer, with his swashbuckling charm and distinctly American charisma, brought to the game.
And so, my fellow Americans — and my fellow golf buffs! — we announce today, as part of our new New Deal, a goal to have 1,000 more public golf courses in this country before the end of this decade. They will be nine-hole courses and six-hole courses. Short courses for beginners and the elderly and those with physical differences. We will build golf courses on reclaimed landfills. We will use public-private partnerships to buy struggling private courses and turn them into courses that are open to all.
It was a pleasure to receive a call recently from Tiger Woods, the great golf champion who was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump. Mr. Woods described his plan to build a public course within the city limits of Los Angeles that would become the annual home of a PGA Tour event that he oversees. He said the course would be built by local residents who have struggled to find work, men and women who will learn new skills that they will be able to take into the construction and water-reclamation industries. As future landscapers and heavy-machine operators. He described a golf course that will use no pesticides and a clubhouse that will be powered by solar and wind energy and staffed by our wounded veterans.
American ingenuity is an astounding thing.
I asked Tiger how hard the course would be.
He said, “Easy enough that you’ll be able to play it.”
[Pause HERE for possible laughs.]
I said, “But then it won’t be too easy for you guys, Tiger?”
He said, “That doesn’t matter. We all play by the rules and whoever shoots the lowest score wins.”
That spirit of fair play is fundamental to who we are as a people. Baseball is the national pastime. But I want to encourage my fellow Americans to take up this great game of golf, too.
Working with the United States Golf Association, my administration is going to encourage every middle school in the United States to offer golf as an elective sport in physical education classes.
I’m pleased to say that my wife, Jill, and President Bush have agreed to lead that effort. Some of you may know that President Bush’s paternal grandfather was a president of the USGA, and that Jill has a doctorate in education.
Yes, folks, I’m bullish on golf.
There’s a passage in Isiah that speaks of turning swords in ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks. President Clinton knows something about that. When he was president, he was given something called the Peace Missile, a driver made from discarded Russian and American missiles. Many American golfers will know that the golf term irons comes from Scotland, and that an iron there was once a sword.
There’s much we can learn from golf. There are close to nine million avid golfers in the United States. By the end of this decade, our goal should be to have 90 million.
To paraphrase President Kennedy on a different subject, we choose to play golf not because it’s easy, but because it is hard. Because golf will measure our energies and our skills. Because the challenge of golf is one we are willing to accept.
It is a game that will improve you.
As we know, tragically, there are Americans with hate in their hearts. Every one of us who knows such people must try to turn them around, find an outlet for their hate. Connect them with another community, one with sound values and a peaceful mission.
You might start by taking them to a driving range. It’s a start.
[Pause HERE, then start section on family farms.]
Michael Bamberger welcomes your comments at Michael.Bamberger@Golf.com.