The whole thing started on an otherwise unremarkable Monday morning. I, Charley Hunter, had just finished my first year of law school at Tulane and, after mulling over several offers, had taken a summer clerking job with Butler & Yates in Atlanta. It wasn't that hard a decision. I was a Braves fan, and the firm had good seats they promised the clerks could use.
The firm was about the right size, too. It was what I called my Goldilocks firm—not too big, not too small, but just right. I figured that I would know just about everyone by the time I left for my second year of law school.
Butler & Yates was a fairly old firm, but the lawyers who recruited law clerks were young and more inclined to talk about the firm's Web site than about its traditions. That's why I didn't know until that morning, my first day on the job, that Bobby Jones had been a partner.
There's not much first-year law students can do as summer clerks beyond the simplest research assignments. Maybe shuffle some papers or organize files. Catalog documents being produced during discovery. That's about it. So when the firm went looking for ways to keep the otherwise worthless first-year clerks busy, someone came up with the bright idea that one of us could be kept occupied the entire summer cataloging what was left of Jones's files. Not that they expected to come up with anything sexy; Jones had written several books during his lifetime sharing the great events of his life and his secrets about golf. When he died in 1971, his family and friends inherited a treasure trove of trophies, medals and other memorabilia.
The only things left at the firm were his legal files, which were protected from publication by the attorney-client privilege. These files had been put in boxes that were stacked in a single room just off to the side of the library. In the beginning my work seemed pretty mundane. Jones had an office practice, which was less glamorous to me than litigation. Many of the files consisted of title searches, incorporations and wills. Aside from his name, there was nothing there to distinguish Jones from any other good lawyer who had competently performed these same services.
The other clerks thought I was nuts when I complained, especially Ken Cheatwood. He had played golf at Oklahoma State and then spent several years bouncing around the mini-tours before finally giving up and entering law school. Cheatwood had grown up with the Jones mystique and chided me for not appreciating my good fortune.
"For god's sake, Charley, don't you realize what you have? You're getting an inside look at the greatest player who ever lived. He beat the greatest pros in the world, and he was an amateur. You're looking at history, Charley. There's bound to be some great golf stuff in there somewhere."
Cheatwood's prophecy came true less than a week later. That's when I first learned about Beau Stedman.
After almost two weeks of indexing half-century-old real estate transactions and whatnot, I was thrilled to come across a box of files containing something different. At last, here were some files that were more of a personal nature, even though they were set up to look like law firm files. This may have explained how they escaped the attention of Jones's survivors, who had long since taken possession of all of his personal papers and correspondence.
They weren't as neatly organized as the other files. I began to believe that maybe Jones himself maintained these files rather than a secretary. Some of the file labels seemed unrelated to the contents. The more I read, the more curious I became. What were these files, anyway?