Golf is a challenging sport to pick up—even if you’re a professional athlete like former NFL running back Reggie Bush—but once you catch the bug, the rewards of learning the game far outweigh the challenges.
For Reggie and his wife, Lilit, golf is now a family affair and a vehicle for giving back to their community. In 2015, the couple began hosting the Bush Family Celebrity Weekend to raise money for kids in need.
“It’s funny, I hosted my first golf tournament before I even learned how to golf—what you’re seeing now is about six years into a vision my wife and I had in mind,” Reggie said. “It’s been an amazing turn out and support from family and friends.”
Long before his first golf event, the former Super Bowl champion with the New Orleans Saints was looking for a hobby after retiring when the golf bug hit him hard.
“I fell in love with the game out of sheer competition—wanting to find that next passion of life after football and I think I found it,” Reggie said. “There’s nothing quite like hitting a ball pure and those are the shots that keep you coming back.”
His first experience of swinging a club was in 2011, when he got a lesson from Rickie Fowler in Augusta, GA. At the time, Reggie was perhaps a bit skeptical of golf, but it was a pastime many of his friends picked up after retiring pro ball, so he figured he would give it a try.
“I wish I could rewind time and appreciate the game more,” Reggie said. “When I was at Augusta, I never hit a ball before, and I was nervous. I didn’t really know what I was doing when Rickie was giving me tips.”
Even before he invested time into learning the game, Reggie saw the benefit in using golf as a way to give back to his community. After all, golf is a successful fundraising tool—its annual charitable impact is nearly $4 billion, more than the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB combined.
This year the Bush Family Celebrity Weekend supported The Birthday Project, a non-profit organization that hosts monthly birthday parties for children ages 1-21 living in homeless and transitional living facilities nationwide. Their mission serves as a powerful reminder of the impact a birthday has in a child’s life—The Birthday Party Project believes, “parties are so much more than a celebration—they are a loud exclamation point that kids matter”.
The charity golf tournament perfectly embodied the mission of The Birthday Party Project—the Bush family threw an epic summer bash on the course at Del Mar Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe, CA. Starting on the first hole, a DJ announced each golfer to the tee like a rock star walking up on stage. Everything from margarita stands, street tacos, and delectable mascarpone cheesecakes were available around the course coupled with games and music on nearly every hole. People traveled from all over the country to participate in the tournament, which included celebrities such as comedian Chris Tucker, and all-star NFL quarterback Drew Brees, as well as local LPGA teaching professionals.
The weekend event, which kicked off on Friday with a 5K family run, evening gala and comedy show, ultimately raised more than $360K for The Birthday Party Project.
Even the Bush’s two young children were enjoying the day on the course—a place where they spend a lot of time together as a family.
“I think we live in a time right now where so many things pull you in so many directions, especially as parents,” Lilit said. “So, we wanted to create a family tradition around a sport where we can enjoy quality time together. To be able to do that in an environment where you can benefit an organization like The Birthday Party Project—it is truly humbling and a blessing.”
Reggie said golf is a regular activity even at home where they have a putting mat and challenge each other to games and competitions. His six-year-old daughter is always eager to go to the course with him, so he started signing her up for golf camps.
“Golf is our father-daughter time,” Bush said. “I want to be able to do something with my kids when I get old—you know I may not be able to run up and down a football field, but I’ll be able to hit a golf ball. Those are the things I feel [our family] can do for the rest of our lives, and it will be a way we bond together.”
Learn more about The Birthday Party Project.