"See what I mean, you dummy?"
All the time this lesson was going on, one of our Chicago millionaires, who seemed less in awe of Armour than anybody else at Boca, was yelling, "Come on, Maestro, save your sermons for the practice tee—we're playing for money!"
For three more days, my wonderment growing with every round, our foursome teed off at noon. On the second-to-last day I holed a 30-footer at the 17th for a birdie to win the hole. Armour, standing on the other side of the green, took off his big straw hat and swept it in an exaggerated bow in my direction. I turned to Muggins, the caddie who had been with Armour for a thousand years, and asked, "What deserved that? That's not the first birdie I've made." Muggins, who was well up in years and had few, if any, teeth, mumbled. "Damn well should take 'is hat off—you just saved 'im seven hunnerd and fifty." I thus learned for the first time in seven rounds what the bet was. We were playing for $250 Nassaus, with automatic two-down presses. At that early stage of my American golfing experience. I didn't even know what a Nassau or a press was. But I had an idea of how much $250 was, and I also knew it was about $250 more than I had in the world.
After our eighth and last round, Tommy asked all of us to dinner in one of Delray's best restaurants. After more than a few belts and an excellent meal, he announced that he was paying the bill out of his half of what we had won. He also handed me his personal check for $875. "That's your half," he said. I was new to America and its golfing customs, had never played for more than two shillings and sixpence a round and had been the lucky recipient of more hospitality and undeserved booty than I had ever dreamed of. I tried to refuse the check.
"John, how much money do you have in your pocket right now?" Armour asked. Embarrassed, I mumbled, "Two dollars and some change."
"Well, let me tell you something," he said. "That check, which is half of what you helped win the last eight days, comes off the top of millions of dollars—maybe even more than that, if the insurance business has been good the last week. Stick it in your pocket, and shut up."
I did both.