By PAUL KENYON
Journal-Bulletin Sports Writer
April 2, 1995
Last year, Bob Hampton sent one of his hand-crafted
golf clubs to the White House. This year, he will be sending another
to the U.S. Golf Association Museum.
The clubs involved, both made by Hampton
at his golf shop in East Providence, are Bill Clinton models.
That is, both have the President's signature inscribed on the
top of the heads (both clubs are drivers) and have the presidential
seal built into the base.
Hampton was commissioned to make a club for
Mr. Clinton last year by Arthur Coia, president of the Laborers'
Union International. Hampton came up with the design, taking the
presidential seal and building it into in the base of the club,
then using a carbon to help carve the President's signature on
The original was presented to the President
on his visit to Rhode Island last November. Hampton made the presentation
himself at the Convention Center. He now has four photographs
and two thank-you letters hanging in his store as mementos of
his five minutes with the President. "I can't tell you how overwhelming it
is to meet the President," Hampton says. "He had just
finished giving a speech. The governor, senators, the secret service,
the head of the state police. All these people are waiting for
him and here I am talking to him. He took the club, said 'I like
this' and started swinging it. He was asking me about the swing
"I didn't even know if I'd be able to
talk when I met him. But everything came out great. I even asked
him if I could have his autograph for me and my family, and he
did it," Hampton said.
The President now is using Hampton's club.
A photo in February's Golf World magazine, when the President
played in the PGA Tour's Bob Hope Classic, with former Presidents
Bush and Ford showed him swinging Hampton's driver.
Hampton was so thrilled by the experience
he had meeting the President that he built a three-wood using
the same design and sent it to Mr. Clinton - and got a second
thank-you note in return. "Look at this," Hampton said, pointing
to the two letters he has framed in his shop. "The first
one starts 'Dear Robert'; on the second one, it's 'Dear Bob.'
The U.S. Golf Association heard about the
club. Hampton spoke with David Fay, the USGA president. Fay asked
if a club could be made for display in the USGA Museum in Far
Hills, N.J. Hampton was only too happy to comply. "They don't have a president's club,"
Hampton said. "No one has ever made a president's club in
the history of golf. They have clubs that factories made and gave
to a president as a gift, but no one has ever made a club like
this with the presidential seal and the president' s signature
on it. This is his club. The president's club. I didn' t put my
name on it. The president's name is the only name on it."
There will be one like that soon in the USGA
Museum, courtesy of Bob Hampton.