Providence Journal-Bulletin

Hampton's Artistry Evident When Clinton Takes To The Links


Bob Hampton made this driver for President Clinton, complete with Presidential seal. The club is made from a rare persimmon wood, which can be treated with oils to avoid cracking.

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 club.

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 weight.

"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.

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