By John Strege
The PGA of America did not receive unanimous approval in presenting former president Bill Clinton its Distinguished Service Award in Louisville on the eve of the PGA Championship Wednesday night.
Bill Clinton receiving award from PGA of America President Ted Bishop (Getty Images photo)
One dissenter, which ought to come as no surprise, is conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.
"This is surreal," Limbaugh said on his show Thursday. "The guy cheats on the golf course, for one thing…I mean, of all the people. You ought to see the people on this list…People like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. It's just one of the many things in the stack of stuff today that makes you cock your head and go, what the hell is happening, and what is going on?'"
Clinton does have a reputation for playing loose with the rules. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, in an interview he did with Clinton for Golf Digest in 2000, asked him about his reputation for taking mulligans.
"My mulligans are way overrated," Clinton said. "I normally don't. I let everyone have one off the first tee, and then normally what I do when I'm playing with people is, I just play around and if somebody makes a terrible shot I say, Well, take one,' and then I give everybody else one. Otherwise there are never more than one a side."
One of the better stories regarding Clinton and golf came courtesy of Tiger Woods, who played a round with him in 2006.
"Interesting math," Woods said. "President Clinton rolls one in the bushes, then hits another one off the tee right in the middle of the fairway, hits a nice little wedge shot up there to about 6-7 feet.
"I hit a bad pitch, blasted it by about 12 feet. Then all of a sudden, he does one of these." Woods then made a gesture as though he were scooping the ball up.
"It was 6-7 feet and he walked off the green. So I'm sitting in the cart. He's writing down the numbers. Woods four, Clinton three."
The Distinguished Service Award is presented annually to "outstanding individuals who display leadership and humanitarian qualities, including integrity, sportsmanship and enthusiasm for the game of golf." The Clinton Foundation has partnered with the PGA Tour's Humana Challenge in promoting the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
Clinton is the third former president to receive the award, joining Gerald Ford in 1991 and George H.W. Bush in 1997.