In her foreward comments to golf professional Ken Raynor’s new book, I CALL HIM ‘MR. PRESIDENT,’ former first lady Barbara Bush writes: “This book is about two men who love being out on the water, even in the roughest of seas…It’s about two men who love to battle it out on the course, even in a driving rainstorm. And It’s about two men who love Maine, and their families, and their legions of friends.”
It’s also a heartwarming and chatty read about Kennebunkport’s favorite citizen. Raynor has known George Herbert Walker Bush over four decades. As head professional at Kennebunkport’s Cape Arundel Golf Club, he has also teed off with many legendary visitors to Walker Point, the Bush compound in the Port.
One of his more memorable foursomes included “41,” Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. Raynor recalls that on the 386-yard par 4 seventh hole, each gentleman hit their ball to within six, five and four feet of the pin for birdies. After several minutes of humorous trash talk about green speed, Raynor said, “You guys send battleships to war, yet you’re agonizing over a short putt.”
Raynor’s “most fun” foursome included the President, “King” Arnold Palmer and Kennebunkport summer resident Dick Thigpen. “Playing with those three gentlemen sticks in my mind as a truly unforgettable round of golf,” says the man nicknamed the Secretary of Swing and the President’s Pro.
Many of the national politicians and celebrities who fished or golfed with President Bush have added fun memories to the 190-page book. CBS Commentator Jim Nantz recalls eating lobster with “41” at Barnacle Billy’s in Ogunquit. Country music star Larry Gatlin opines, “I kinda wish Mrs. B were the president right now — she would REALLY kick some read end.” HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, recalls the speedy “George Bush pace” on the course.
LPTA 17-time winner Dottie Pepper remembers playing golf with Bush when he nearly aced a hole-in-one. She says, “His shot was not more than two inches away from the hole. To this day he has never had a hole in one!” Johnny Morris, CEO of Bass Pro Shops, writes about a fishing trip to Newfoundland when the president accidentally stepped into a bog and sank up to his chin.
When George Bush was Vice President, he insisted that Raynor and his wife Annie spend part of their honeymoon with him and “Bar” at the Naval Observatory, official residence of the Vice President. Later, when Bush was President, the Raynor were invited to the White House and slept in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Obviously, this is not a book about political decisions that changed the course of history. But it’s an engaging and charming read about a guy who got lucky enough to become a close buddy of a President. Raynor says, “George Bush taught me how to live life to the fullest, and to give back to society.”
All proceeds from I CALL HIM ‘MR. PRESIDENT’ will go to the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust and to Gary’s House, a hospitality house in Portland, Maine for visitors with family members undergoing treatment in Mercy Hospital and Maine Medical Center. The book is available at 650 Barnes & Noble bookstores across the country, and in the Pro Shop of Cape Arundel Golf Club.
(Photos courtesy of the George Herbert Walker Bush Presidential Library)