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Secret Service Agent Clint Hill Remembers Arnold Palmer

Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. (Gallery Books, May 2016) [caption id="attachment_5672" align="alignright" width="300"]Sept. 9, 1960. President Dwight Eisenhower, right, enjoys a laugh with Arnold Palmer before they played a round of golf together in a foursome at the Gettysburg Country Club. (AP Photo/Paul Vathis, File) Sept. 9, 1960. President Dwight Eisenhower, right, enjoys a laugh with Arnold Palmer before they played a round of golf together in a foursome at the Gettysburg Country Club. (AP Photo/Paul Vathis, File)[/caption] One of the most fun things about protecting President Eisenhower on his golf outings was being around the high-profile people with whom he played—people like Cliff Roberts, a co-founder of Augusta National; Bill Robinson, chairman of the board of Coca-Cola; and the most interesting to me, Arnold Palmer. When Palmer drove from the tee, the ball would rise and remain about three feet off the ground for about two hundred yards and then zoom upward, coming to rest near or on the green. He was amazing. Later, when I was assigned to protect Vice President Spiro Agnew, I had another encounter with Arnold Palmer in Honolulu. We were returning to the U.S. from a trip through Asia, New Zealand, and Australia, during which we had encountered violent anti-Vietnam war protestors at every stop. When we got the Agnews checked into the Kahala Hilton near Diamond Head, I discovered that Arnold Palmer and his wife were also guests, and I had an idea. “Mr. Vice President,” I said, “we’ve learned that Arnold Palmer is staying here this weekend.  Would you be interested in playing a round of golf with him if I could arrange it?” Agnew looked at me with wide eyes.  “Of course I’d be interested, Clint.  The question is, would he want to play with me?” “Well, I know he enjoyed playing with President Eisenhower—I got to know him a little bit during my days with Ike—and I’d be happy to make the introduction.” “Wow, Clint,” Agnew said.  “Sure.  that would be a great opportunity.” I contacted Mr. Palmer, and he said he’d be honored to play with the vice president, so a golf game between the two was arranged.  They got along so well that Palmer and his wife and the Agnews ended up having dinner together as well.   Despite the constant protests, the trip had been very successful overall, but to end it with a golf game between the vice president and one of his golf idols was a nice final note.  ]]>

16 Comments

  1. Tom Sutton on September 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Clint,

    I have enjoyed your books & the memories you share on Facebook.

    Hopefully you will find your way to Phoenix, AZ or perhaps Tempe where I live.

    • Clint Hill on September 26, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Thank you. We have been to Tempe, AZ a couple of times with our previous books. It’s a beautiful area.

  2. Mike on September 26, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Thank you for sharing Mr. Hill. In writing or live, your stories and recollections are always wonderful.

  3. Jerry DePinto on September 26, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Clint you have met historical people that most of us have only read about. Thanks for sharing your front row seat of history and the manner you do it.

  4. Paul on September 26, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Did Kennedy play with Arnold Palmer as well? He was an avid golfer too correct?

    • Clint Hill on September 27, 2016 at 3:58 pm

      I’m really not sure because I was assigned to Mrs. Kennedy.

  5. Harvey Roach on September 26, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Mr. Hill I have read your books with a deep appreciation for the special view on history they present. Thank you for your insight.

  6. Beth & Bob Spicer on September 26, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    Mr Hill we really enjoyed reading your memories of Arnold Palmer . What a fine gentleman he was . You continue to amaze us both with your clarity of events and ability as a gifted story teller .
    We felt privileged to meet both you and Lisa McGubbin in Buffalo NY in May .
    Best regards from your Candadian friends
    Beth & Bob Spicer

  7. Tony Sloan on September 27, 2016 at 8:58 am

    Met Mr. Palmer in 1996. Class act all the way. You too, Mr. Hill. Would be honored to meet you next time you are in Tampa. In the meantime, really enjoying Five Presidents.

  8. Michael P. Rives on September 27, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I have read your writings. I admire you and the Secret Service detail protecting our leaders. I have observed the secret service in action protecting President Johnson, Vice President Humphrey, President Carter, and Bernie Sanders. You men and women are protecting our country. Thank-you.

  9. J.W. Larrick on September 27, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing your memories of President Eisenhower and Arnold Palmer. I have really enjoyed your books on your experiences on the protective details of our presidents and their families. My favorite was “Mrs. Kennedy and me” because it seemed that you really enjoyed your time with her and all the international travel you had. I have seen you both times you visited Kansas City on your book tour and hope you are working on another project for us soon.

  10. Kim on September 28, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Mr Hill – I was only 2 1/2 yrs old in ’63 – but I grew up and still remain fascinated with the Kennedy era. You were so impressive to me as you took care of Mrs Kennedy – and dashed to an jumped on the back of GG 300 that day and layed over top of them to protect them

    You were most distinguished and embodied what a SS Agent should be.

    I know that was an awful day for you personally and professionally, but you sprang into action and did what you were trained to do. You did all you could have humanly done.

    I know this had a lifelong impact on you.

    I am sure it was and maybe still is something you think about every day.

    You for some reason stood out amongst the other agents. Maybe it was the fact that you sprung into action the way you did and leaped onto the car, and also the way you remained with Mrs Kennedy through all that and afterwards

    I thought often that I would have like to have been in the service – but it takes a special person

    I have seen the 61 Lincoln at the Ford Museum in Detroit – that was a beautiful year model for Lincoln.

    I appreciate your service

  11. Ronald Hennes on September 29, 2016 at 8:57 am

    Hello Clint,
    you might recall about 10 plus years ago you were kind enough to answer a couple notes I sent to you. I barely missed meeting you in Los Angeles at Book Soup when your first book came out. Several months ago I sent a letter to Lisa McCubbin in Tiburon asking her to pass on a letter to you. In it I enclosed a letter I wrote in 2008 to Concordia President Dr Jolicoeur urging they honor you at a special student seminar/event honoring you. May I ask if you ever received it or if I could send another note to you so you might enjoy that old letter? YOU are like this great man Arnold Palmer. YOU are a true great American Hero. In years and centuries to come you and your actions will always be centered in the death of my boyhood/adult “hero” President Kennedy. I hope you are in good health and happy in life and all is well with you. Clint … you deserve that for your life and service to the United States. No doubt if President and Mrs Kennedy were still with us you would be a dear part of their lives now. God Bless and keep you. AND R.I.P. Arnie Palmer. Ronald

  12. Yuwynn on October 2, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Mr. Hill, I enjoyed your last book with Mrs Kennedy and look forward to reading this one. Will you be doing any events in Tampa/Orlando FL?

    • Karen Rich Morrow on October 9, 2016 at 3:00 pm

      I had just read in your book Five Presidents about President Eisenhower playing with Arnold Palmer in September of 2016. My Uncle Donald Bryant talked about playing with Arnold Palmer so that really meant a great deal to me. I finished your book recently. The last paragraph of your Epilogue and the last sentence is so important today, Sunday October 9th , the day of the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. I plan to put that Epilogue paragraph on my Facebook page later today. Thank you for your insights. The Residence, was the choice for my October 6th book group meeting in Lancaster,Pennsylvania. We all like Nonfiction. I think your book would be a great suggestion for December of 2016. We chose September to November in June of 2016. Thanks for sharing your life with me. I remember so many of the events you detailed. I was a Freshman at the University of Mississippi when President Kennedy died. My professor said as we entered class at 1pm that the President had been shot and if he died the University of Mississippi Chancellor was shutting down classes for the rest of the week. Soon classes were canceled .We all sat in the women’s dorm lobbies watching the week go bye on the large TVs. I can say more but that is enough for you to know that I have tears in my eyes as I recall the various deaths you recounted. God Bless and Keep you and give you and all of us peace.

  13. Sallie Hammond on March 28, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Mr.Hill,
    You are an inspiration to us all.
    Having read your book “Mrs.Kennedy and Me” I was enthralled with each chapter. You write with great insight and compassion. Having been born in India 1944 when my father served with the RAF during the war, your description of Mrs. Kennedy’s visit to India is fabulous. What incredible detail to all the planning to make Mrs.Kennedy’s trip both safe and memorable.
    Your role in protecting the President and Mrs.Kennedy during the tragic assassination in Dallas November 22 1963, will always be remembered.
    Thank you for sharing some of your life experiences in this wonderful book. I purchased a copy of your book in Hilton Head, South Carolina whilst on a visit from Ontario.

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