Former U.S. President Helped Launch
USGA Members Program
December 27, 2006
By Ken Klavon, USGA
Gerald Ford, the 38
U.S. President and one of the main cogs behind the
birth of the USGA
, died at 93 Tuesday in his Rancho Mirage, Calif. , home. Cause
of death was not indicated. Ford had battled various ailments for
the better part of a year.
|President Gerald Ford, left, confers with
Arnold Palmer in the Oval Office on Dec. 18, 1975. (USGA
The longtime Michigan (Rep.) congressman ascended to the
presidency in 1974, staying in the White House 895 days, after
Richard Nixon resigned on Aug. 9 amid the Watergate scandal. In
an ironic twist, Nixon had made Ford the first appointed vice
president in history after a disgraced Spiro Agnew left office in
Outside of politics Ford was a sportsman, first starring as a
center for the of on two national championship football teams. He
had offers to play professional football, however chose to study
law at Yale. Through the years he played golf avidly, befriending
Arnold Palmer and former USGA Executive Committee member Elbert
Jemison along the way.
When Jemison hatched the idea for a Members Program, Palmer
joined on for the cause before the two approached Ford about
giving it a face. Jemison and Palmer felt who better to represent
the amateur golfer than Ford. The program that boasts more than
850,000 advocates today, was born in the government's famous
Oval Office on . Palmer, the only national chairman the program
has ever known, handed a pen to Ford and signed him on as the
first of what was then called an Associate.
Ford, born Leslie King on in , Neb. , before his mother
remarried Gerald Ford Sr., is survived by wife, Betty, and four
children: Michael, John, Steven and Susan.
Wire reports contributed.