President Clinton Talks Golf, Health and the New Humana Challenge
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Clinton: Golf brings people together.

President Bill Clinton and PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem gathered a hand-picked group of writers to discuss and promote the new Humana Challenge — or what we’ll continue to call it, the Bob Hope Classic — in Harlem.

Earlier this year Clinton’s foundation and Humana, the health insurance firm, swooped in to save the longtime tour stop. During the week of the tournament, the focus will be on welcoming the new (format), commemorating the old (legacy of Bob Hope), and to advocate good health habits, according to a USA Today report:

With a new format — one amateur per professional, not three; three courses, not four; and three days of pro-am play, not four — a new trophy and a new name, the Humana Challenge, the goal is to honor and celebrate the legacy of Bob Hope, the longtime tournament host. Another goal Jan. 16-22 is to promote health and well-being to affect people’s behavior.

Tournament week will feature a national conference focused on health and well-being on Tuesday, highlighted by a keynote address from Clinton.

“We’re having all these fights down in Washington today about the budget. And the reason is that if you’re a conservative, some of the choices that have to be made are unpalatable, and if you’re a liberal, some of the choices you have to make are unpalatable,” Clinton said. “The one free choice we have is to become healthier.

“If you look at what America is spending, 17.5% give or take, on health care, and no other major country pays that. The Netherlands is 11.9%; France is 11.8%, Japan’s still at 8.5%. And one of the reasons Japan is at 8.5% in health care is the way they live. Conservatively, that’s $850 billion difference between us and them.

“This is one thing every American can do about America’s budget deficit. If we change our lifestyles, that’s one thing every American can do to make our country stronger.”

The former President also believes more people playing golf can help resolve many of this country’s issues:

Clinton would like to see another change — one dealing with the gridlock on Capitol Hill. Clinton probably sports bruises from his partisan battled with Republicans during his eight years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And he sees things haven’t gotten any better between the GOP and the Democratic Party.

His solution? Tee it up.

Clinton said that while the country is less racist and sexist and more acceptable of homosexuals, one division needs to be improved.

“We don’t want to be around people we disagree with,” he said. “Just think about it. It’s a bad thing, I think, for our country, that we don’t like to be around people who disagree with us.

“Golf brings people together. Once you actually see somebody as a human being, it becomes impossible to disregard what they have to say, and you might learn something. I think it’s really important.”

Go here to read more of Clinton’s thoughts on golf topics.

(AP Photo)