Suddenly the course superintendent, Marion Luke, was in his face. "He said, 'You can't do that!' " Stranahan says, mimicking Luke's angry face. " 'You're hitting a bunch of balls to the green!' I told him I wasn't, but he gave me a hard time."
Luke left, but two holes later he was back. This time tempers flared. The two men swore at each other, and Luke said, "I'm going in to report you." Stranahan sighs. "I said, 'You're ridiculous.' "
Ridiculous or not, a delegation of club members met the Ohio amateur at the 8th green. They told him that his invitation had been revoked and he had to leave the grounds immediately.
(Note to editor: That last bit is from Sampson's book. Stranahan told me he was bounced by the tournament chairman himself, the overbearing Roberts.)
"So I bought a ticket [to the tournament]," Stranahan continues, "and I stayed there."
Not sure how to proceed, Stranahan called his father and then phoned the Silver Scot, former British and U.S. Open champion Tommy Armour. Both men counseled him to appeal his case to the club's president, Jones. "They said Jones was one of the premier sportsmen in the country," Stranahan says. "He would certainly listen to me and give me a fair trial." But Jones dodged Stranahan for two days, and when they finally met, on Wednesday, the great man threw up his hands. Sorry, Frank. Cliff runs the tournament. "I never had a chance to give my side of the story," Stranahan says. "I never had much respect for Bobby Jones after that."
Or for Roberts. Stranahan admits he shed no tears, 29 years later, when the tournament chairman went out one night on the par-3 course and fatally shot himself by Ike's Pond.
(Note to editor: Stranahan's actual words were, "I wish I'd been there when he committed suicide. I would have rolled the son of a bitch into the water.")
Of course, the question we want answered, the question that has never been answered satisfactorily, is why? Why was the club "out to get" Stranahan?
Curt Sampson quotes a 1948 magazine article to the effect that Stranahan had dated a blonde "who was palsy with a club member," and that the club member had retaliated by getting Stranahan in trouble at Augusta National. "The rumor within the rumor," Sampson writes, "was that the affronted member was Himself, Clifford Roberts, and that the blonde was his secretary."