SI Vault
Myron Cope
October 02, 1967
On duty, that's where. To better understand the spirit of Pinker ton's, Inc., the 117-year-old detective agency that controls fans at the Masters, college football games and racetracks, the author (right) joins the force as a guard
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October 02, 1967

Agent 26250, Where Are You?

On duty, that's where. To better understand the spirit of Pinker ton's, Inc., the 117-year-old detective agency that controls fans at the Masters, college football games and racetracks, the author (right) joins the force as a guard

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The Memphis Open easily was drawing enough spectators to pose a true test of the Pinkertons' skills. On Thursday and Friday, attendance had been 7,000 and then 11,000, and it was destined to swell to 19,500 Saturday and 21,500 Sunday—crowds worthy of a major championship event. Friday night, Trecost and his aides would study the field, selecting the five threesomes they considered most likely to attract the bulk of the Saturday gallery. To each of these they would assign a five-man Pinkerton escort, but as the Saturday play progressed the Pinkerton command would keep a weather eye open for any sudden shift in crowd interest and would stand ready to realign its forces. "For a starter, we'll throw you right in with someone like Nicklaus or Player," Trecost advised me. From literature that had been provided me in New York, I already had undergone a sort of correspondence course in tournament security work; but on Saturday morning, when Trecost called at my motel room to pin me with a badge, I suddenly realized that I was a very real cog in a $100,000 event and that a single lapse on my part could affect the outcome and bring shame on the agency.

Three hours later, bounding briskly down the first fairway alongside the threesome of Gary Player, Chuck Courtney and Babe Hiskey, I strove to review in my mind all the small yet vital details that make a Pinkcrton-policed tournament a cut above the average. I noted that Player, his lips pursed, looked particularly grim, a man who would expect impeccable service. Minutes later, from the No. 2 tee, he sailed a drive into the rough to the right. Instantly the right-fairway team—a husky Pinkerton and I—sprang into action, strictly according to Pinkerton procedure. While my partner covered the ball, I flung myself into the path of spectators hurrying onto the green. Silently, with palms upraised, I admonished them to halt. None but the Pinkertons, you see, would appreciate the possibility that crowd movement toward the green might be seen from the corner of Player's right eye as he addressed his ball in the rough, and reduce him to a lump of quivering jelly.

The people swept right by me as though I did not exist. I was convinced right then that I did not possess an ounce of authority in my appearance, and I was certain that if Player had a poor round he would go straight to Trecost and blame it on me.

"Put up those hands like you mean it!" Trecost hissed at me, emerging from nowhere. He wore a powder-blue cap and an armband that identified him as a Pinkerton officer. Having sensed my timidity, he had decided to hover on the fringe of the crowd and throw me cues as needed.

As it happened, the sight of Chuck Courtney, who was tied with Player for second place, served for a while to quiet my nerves. Courtney seemed out of place among the grim pros. A lean, bespectacled man with a fuzz of yellow hair, he wore at all times a bemused grin, scanning the activity around him as though he had dropped from another planet into the midst of an earth rite that he found amusingly strange. Coming off the 6th green, he followed behind me as I tried to clear an alley through the gallery that stood thick as mush around the green. "Watch the players!" I heard Trecost's voice call from the edge of the crowd.

"Watch the players!" I echoed, picking up the cue.

From behind me, Courtney sang out, "Watch the players!"

He had discovered me for an impostor, I was sure. Mortified, I wondered what to do.' 'Watch the players!" I called out weakly.

For all my discomfort at that moment, a startling transformation soon began to come over me. Gradually my uniform began to feel as though it belonged on me, and as it did I found that with one swift upward movement of my right hand I could silence a whispering crowd on the green. "No running!" I snapped softly in the rough along the fairways, and small boys froze in their tracks as though hit by a Buck Rogers ray gun. A sense of elation surged through me. Looking back now, I cannot escape the conclusion that all these years a cop complex had lain dormant within me, and that, given half a chance, I would make a thoroughly hateful cop. By 4 o'clock, when Trecost sent me to relieve a guard at the entrance to the men's grill, I was eager to take on the first troublemaker who dared present himself without a grill ticket.

Alas, practically every adult male on the course, it seemed, had a ticket to the grill. There were tickets for club members, tickets for members' guests, tickets for players' brothers, uncles and grandfathers—in fact, 16 varieties of tickets. "What the hell is this?" I wondered. After all, guards are for keeping people out, aren't they? At last a heavy-set, homely man tried to talk his way past me without a ticket.

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