Good Enough For The President, Not The President's Cup

You may recall that even after two top 10s in the '05 Open and PGA, Gary Player chose Trevor Immelman over Geoff Ogilvy.

Maybe George W. Bush noticed and decided to make it up to Ogilvy?

Because Peter Stone shares Geoff Ogilvy's stories from a surprise invite to attend a White House state dinner, where Ogilvy found himself seated with Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Rupert Murdoch and the president of New Zealand Australia.

Don't pass this one up, it's a must read. I'm copying most below in case the link disappears (after all, this is my personal archive!):

"I still don't know why I was invited," [Ogilvy] said. "The White House contacted my manager less than a week before the dinner; they didn't know how else to contact me. I thought, 'That's a bit strange,' because it was the White House. They know everything.

"There were no details, an official invitation arrived in the post shortly afterwards, but it was a pretty easy decision to make. Of course we'd go."

The Ogilvys arrived spot on time. They were among the first to arrive, and after going through security were ushered into an anteroom for cocktails.

There they watched the other guests arrive - "Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Murdoch … Juli and I looked at each other and said, 'Wow, why are we here?' We knew [from newspapers and television] just about everyone who entered. 'Wow, we know why they're here."'

Ogilvy thought it would be a dinner for 800 or more people, but there were just over 120. He and Juli were given a small package which included their table number. Damn. Ogilvy was on No.11 (of 12 tables), his wife on No.7. They knew no one else and it would have been far more comfortable to be seated together.

"I thought, before we went to the dining room, maybe we'd be in a queue to shake Johnny and Bush's hand," Ogilvy said. "We were, but the President caught Juli's accent. 'Are you from Texas?' In 30 seconds they'd established that she had a friend who had babysat the Bush children.

"I said to Jules before we were ushered into the dining room, 'I'll see you later'. Then I found my table. 'Table 11. Where the hell is it? Right up the front. Not bad. Wonder who's on the table?' I looked at the place names. Condoleezza Rice. Wow. Rupert Murdoch. The President. John Howard and Mrs Howard, Julie Eisenhower. What the hell am I doing here?"

The band began to play, believe it or not, the same song they play on the movies whenever the actor who is president enters a room. Hail to the Chief. Juli had her back to where her husband was but turned to watch where the most powerful man in the world sat, two seats away from her husband.

"Juli freaked out when she looked around," Ogilvy said. "The look on her face was priceless. Mine probably was too. I just couldn't comprehend why he wanted me to sit at his table.

"He's the man. He could have had anyone in the world sitting just two chairs away from him, it was amazing."

Ogilvy and Bush talked. Bush talked to the Australian golfer, who was the only sportsperson in the entire room, more than to anyone else on the table.

There was never a word about politics. The only mention of Iraq was when Bush told Ogilvy he'd stopped playing golf when the Iraq war began.

This was a valuable lesson learned from the days of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, who was found on a golf course during a national crisis.

"All he wanted to do was talk sport," Ogilvy said of Bush. "No politics. Maybe that was the reason I was there. I'm an Australian and we love our sport.

"His dad is a fanatical golfer, his grandfather was a former president of the USGA, he loves his golf. These days he rides a bike. He used to run, but his knees blew out, so now he's passionate about his bike."

Ogilvy minded his manners while talking with Bush. Not for him the "atrocities" of fellow Australian golfer Mark Hensby, who is somewhat a loose cannon, who last year attended a White House reception for the Presidents Cup team and managed to have a shot at Bush over taxes and later managed to set fire to the dinner menu at the table with a candle.

"When you're sitting at a table with people like that you definitely remember what you were taught when you were young," Ogilvy said. "You only speak when you are spoken to. It's amazing how quickly your social etiquette comes back."

Ogilvy, reunited with his wife as they departed, said to each other that none of their friends would believe it. She'd been on a table with Murdoch's wife Wendi and the man who was the mayor of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck; he's now in charge of rebuilding the famous city where Bourbon Street holds legendary status.

"Maybe I'll meet another president, or prime minister, but to be actually sitting with them at the same table in the White House - no one would believe that. I still don't," Ogilvy said.