A lot of these guys remember in 1995 when the President went and played with President Ford and President Bush, and they appreciate his support for what's happened over the years. So I've had a number of players call and say, look, I'm going to be there without even asking.
I think we'll have a solid field. We have a lot of great tournaments all year, and it's work. But our players, most of our players, if you look at the charities they're involved in and the foundations, an awful lot of them have to do with kids. The David Toms Foundation (Inaudible), and a lot of the players are focused on kids.
When you talk about tournaments and kids in the same breath, it's very interesting. They also recognize they're role models. I would say in today's world 99.8% of them are great role models. Not a hundred percent, but if you look up and down the lineup, these guys take care of themselves.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: But generally compared to 20 years ago, if you ask somebody why has the average driving distance gone up? They'll say it's the equipment that's better and that's true. But I would argue far more than the equipment is how seriously these players take fitness. It's a different world.
They're professional athletes in a different way. I mean, when I was a kid, we used to have a pro tournament in my hometown, and I would get out of school and caddie for it. Most of the golfers on TOUR looked like everybody else in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
I mean, nobody would look at Padraig Harrington standing next to me and mistake me for a professional golfer. I mean, there are a lot of them. That's one of the reasons that I hope we can do something with this that really will capture not only the players' imagination but a lot of other people.
Q. Mr. President, what would be the chances of you playing?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Oh, well, I hope I can. I'm not very good anymore. Haiti just about ruined my golf game. My best year as a golfer was the first year I got out of the White House. I got down to a 10 handicap. But I'm not close to that now. I just don't play enough.
I saw President Bush, George W. Bush and I were doing this project in Haiti, and he was ragging me. He said I'm down to a 10 now. I was there my first year after office. I said you're just going to have to resist the temptation to do good. (Laughter) I said you start traveling and it will wreck you because we're the same age.
He said he played like four times a week and he's in good shape, so we have a good time playing.
Q. Mr. President, did your foundation consider another venue or partners to promote this initiative for health apart from the tournament?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: No, because like I said, I've got this whole separate thing, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. I told you Mike and Humana are one of our insurance partners. So that takes a lot of time. We're working that and expanding it. We want to go from 12,000 schools to all the schools involved in this.
This was a gift, as far as I was concerned, brought to me. Because I think when they asked me several years ago, the Heart Association and I started talking about this childhood obesity problem, and I'll just give you one example. The American Medical Association said two years ago ?? this is something that is amazing ?? we can no longer refer to Type 2 diabetes as adult on?set diabetes.
It was unheard of for almost all my life for any child to have anything other than Type 1, the kind you're born with. Now in the last few years we have 9, 10?year?old kids diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, so this is a big deal.
So to be honest with you, the idea of something like this happening never crossed my mind. But I was thrilled about it, because I also had a real soft spot in my heart for Bob Hope after we played in that tournament.
He called me one day. He said I'm coming to Washington. He's 95 years old. He said I know you're President, but I want to play golf, so just change your schedule.
So I took him out to Army?Navy Country Club, and we played nine holes, and he parred 175 yard par?3 hole. He hit driver straight up a hill on to the green. He could see the ball at his feet, he couldn't see the hole at all. (Inaudible) ? so he said it's going to break about four inches. So he hits the ball within one inch and tapped in for a par.
The reason I hope this will help older people is the thing that I think kept Hope happy and healthy is that he told me back in 1979 when I had dinner with him, he came to Arkansas to give a speech, that all of his life he had walked an hour a day, no matter what. He said if he did a deal in London and it was the dead of winter and it was raining like the devil and he couldn't walk until 11 o'clock at night, he put on his galoshes and took his big umbrella out, and he walked it out.
He worked on swinging his arms. Another big problem with getting older is you lose your flexibility. You lose your ability to lift your legs. You lose the ability of your muscular support. He could swing the golf balls parallel at 95.
Anyway, no, I didn't plan this. This is a gift. I'm just glad to be on the team.
Q. Mr. President, how do we grow the game more in the United States? It seems to be growing well globally, but participation in the last decade in the states has been fairly flat. Any ideas how we can grow it in the states?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I think, first of all, I think there will be a gap. I think all of these First Tee efforts are going to have a positive impact. And I think like I live up in Westchester County, we have a network of good public courses that an ordinary person can go and play on. I noticed that in the economic collapse, some of the memberships at some of the clubs in my county dropped way down to more affordable levels.
I think we reach a point now where (Inaudible) as I said, the thing I think that's going to help membership here is the older people (Inaudible). If we do this right, even though it's not (Inaudible). So I think you can assume you'll have substantial older people playing golf, even though that's where the demographic's concentrated now, I think as the First Tee crowd begins to move through school and onto golf, you'll see an increase.
Q. Do you agree with Freddy Couples and who the two Presidents Cup picks have been?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Freddy Couplesb, he's a great golfer. You know (Inaudible) he's got ??