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President Clinton golfs at Black Rock

November 29, 1996

By GUY FLETCHER

Staff Writer

The joke around the clubhouse at Black Rock Golf Course Friday was that it must be the day after Thanksgiving because President Bill Clinton was back.

And there he was, playing like any other golfer who happened to be surrounded by a cadre of Secret Service agents. It was the fourth time Clinton has played at Black Rock and the second year in row that he decided to spend the day after Thanksgiving on the course's chilly links.

"He just likes it here," Roger Clinton, the president's brother, said after the group of eight golfers completed the 18-hole round in the late afternoon darkness. "Now, I like it here. This was my first time."

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Black Rock officials said they were first notified around 10:30 a.m. that the president was planning a round of golf at the course.

When Kevin Lynott saw a military helicopter fly over his home near Hagerstown Junior College, he figured the president was coming to golf. So he and his wife Kelly, and their 2-year-old daughter Kaitlin, went to the golf course.

"It's kind of neat to get a glimpse of him - not that I'm a big fan," Lynott said.

Morgan Hellgren was playing on the seventh hole at Black Rock when he saw two helicopters prepare to land. He, too, figured the president was golfing.

"It was unbelievable," said Hellgren, the principal at Highland View Academy.

The president and his party, including brothers-in-law Hugh and Tony Rodham, arrived in the helicopters just before noon. Before heading off to the driving range, he took time to chat with other golfers, employees at the course.

"He's a heck of a nice guy," said Bill Hoffman, who works in the pro shop at Black Rock.

Susan Gruber said she heard about the helicopters on a police monitor she has in her home west of Hagerstown. Guessing correctly what was happening, she went to the golf course with her husband Ray and their 7-year-old son Aaron.

Not only were they able to meet the president, Clinton posed for a photograph with Aaron.

"It surprised me that we were able to get that close to him," Gruber said.

The two presidential foursomes began golfing at about 12:30 p.m., and by the time Clinton completed his first nine holes, a small group of onlookers, media and others had gathered on the clubhouse porch. They witnessed the president knocking two iron shots into a water hazard. When the president finally cleared the small lake with a wedge, several people cheered.

Roger Clinton said his brother shot an "84 or 85" on the par-72 course.

After the round, the hoarse-throated Clinton signed some autographs and said a few quiet words before being ushered off to an awaiting motorcade that took him to Camp David.

Ron Stansbury, acting chairman of the board of directors at Black Rock, said having the president as a frequent guest is a public relations coup for the golf course.

"We're very happy to have him," he said.

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