"Look here," he persisted, "I've gotta meet a friend inside."
"Over my dead body," I thought, though I turned him down with cool courtesy.
He turned to a stranger and said, "Can I please borrow your grill ticket for just one minute?" He then entered the grill and in a jiffy returned carrying two tickets—the one he had borrowed outside and another that he had borrowed from his friend inside. "O.K.?" he crowed, waving the latter ticket under my nose. With that, he disappeared into the grill.
I was still sulking several hours later as I had dinner with Trecost and two of his aides. Why is it, I complained, that everybody and his brother can get into the grill? "The club wants the business," Trecost shrugged. He was sympathetic to my frustration but unwilling to share my mood. He and his men were pleased because the tournament was running exceptionally smoothly. Gay Brewer Jr., for one, had gone out of his way to applaud the Pinkertons, saying, "On the first hole I pulled a shot into the rough and some of the fans tried to talk to me when I got there. But a Pinkerton swooped right in and said, 'No talking to the players please!' " To my mind, this seemed a trivial deed, hardly worthy of mention, but the golfers seemed to regard any intrusion on their concentration as part of a conspiracy to destroy them. No doubt the guard who hushed Brewer's gallery received from his superior a ringing "Attaboy!"—the reward that Pinkerton golf guards are given for outstanding work. After earning five Attaboys a guard is in line for a "Well done!"
"Wouldn't your men rather have a raise?" I asked Trecost's right-hand man, Nelvil Theard. (Although it is neither here nor there, such surnames as Trecost and Theard—pronounced Thayard—have the ring of Ian Fleming fiction, and I could not resist treating myself to fantasy thoughts in which the two men turned out to be Interpol agents closing in on a cache of diamonds that Gary Player had smuggled out of South Africa.) Actually, the question I put to Theard was unfair, because since 1961 the Pinkerton firm has bestowed U.S. Savings Bonds of up to $500 upon guards who have acted meritoriously or with valor, but Theard met the gibe head on.
"There are some things," he replied evenly, "that money can't buy."
By the time I reported for duty Sunday morning, I had recognized my cop complex and put it under control. In a lighter mood, I decided to seek out Gary Player in the locker room and treat him to a laugh by announcing that I, one of his guards the previous day, in reality was a journalist. As I went through the entrance to the locker room, however, a guard threw me a suspicious glance, and when I had proceeded halfway down an aisle leading to Player's locker, another Pinkerton stepped into my path and said, "Can I help you, sir?" Pass me a stack of Bibles and I shall swear on them: here was a uniformed Pinkerton stopping another uniformed Pinkerton. If ever I had doubted the agency's reputation for devotion to the rules, I had no such doubts now.
"Only players, press and officials are permitted in the locker room," the guard said firmly. I had to show him a press card, revealing my true identity, before he would let me pass. I had the feeling that if Arnold Palmer, who had skipped the Memphis Open, had dropped by the locker room to visit, the Pinkerton would have ordered him to leave.
At any rate, Player was greatly amused when I told him, a moment later, that I was a journalist in disguise. "Oh, that's priceless," he exclaimed, slapping his thigh. We chatted for perhaps five minutes, during which he pronounced the Pinkertons to be "the finest thing that could happen to us." Forty-five minutes later, Player teed off, hitting his first drive into the rough, and it was there that I came to appreciate, as I never fully had, the importance that Player and Brewer and the others attach to the tranquillity that the Pinkertons make possible.
Working again in the detail assigned to escort Player's threesome, I hustled after his ball and backed the gallery away to give him plenty of hitting room. I expected that Player would be amused to see me in action and might even toss me a quip or share with me his concern over a somewhat troublesome lie. But he gave me no sign of recognition. Expertly he hit his ball to the green and then walked briskly past me, not two feet away, without giving the least indication that we had met and chatted less than an hour before. In short, he had summoned to his work a capacity for concentration so total that it bordered on a state of shock. Many times during the course of his round that day, he looked directly at me, but his eyes seemed not to see, and at no time did he so much as acknowledge my presence with a nod.