AUSTIN (KXAN) — Not everyone can say they’ve played 18 holes of golf with a former commander-in-chief, but for Jerry Griffin, an almost canceled round of golf more than 20 years ago turned into his most memorable day out on the course.
Jerry Griffin said, “It was December the 7th, as a matter of fact. The day that will live in infamy for me.”
On December 7, 1997, Griffin was supposed to meet a couple colleagues at Pebble Creek Golf Club in College Station, but when he got there, they called and had to cancel because they had gotten sick.
Griffin said he was about to leave, but employees at the pro shop told him, “We just got a call from President Bush, and he’s in town, and he wanted to know if he could come and play a round of golf.”
They were talking about George H.W. Bush, so Griffin decided to stick around to catch a glimpse of the president.
When the former president arrived, “He walked directly over to me and introduced himself to me,” he said. “I was pretty much flabbergasted because I didn’t expect to have a conversation with him.”
That surprise hello led to Griffin explaining how his partners had gotten sick so couldn’t make it. “The next question out of his mouth just really floored me. He said would you like to play with us?”
Thus began Griffin’s most memorable round of golf.
“When we came out, time to hit the first golf ball off the first tee, I was just, you know, quietly praying just let me make contact with the ball, ha,” Griffin explained. “I got a gallery and about five or six secret service agents guys and a former President of the United States standing here, and I’ve got to hit the ball straight.”
That nervousness went away shortly after the first swing. “He called me Jerry one time, and that’s when we met. From then on, he referred to me as partner,” Griffin said. “He was just a nice guy. Really after 30 minutes, it was like playing golf with my next door neighbor.”
Days later, Griffin sent a picture taken on a disposable camera to the former president, who then mailed it back signed.
The picture reads, ” To Jerry, a great partner on this brisk day at Pebble Creek. Thanks for carrying me.”
Looking back on 41’s legacy, Griffin said, “To me, as important as his accomplishments is the fact that he was just a really really nice man, a really good man, and a very caring man. That’s a legacy to be proud of.”