Criminal negligence

Criminal negligence

Investigative journalism (that is, the Woodward-Bernstein variety) involves two things I try to avoid, investigation and journalism. I see no future in either. But I do enjoy a good crime scene, and sometimes curiosity overpowers my natural instincts, as it did in the strange case of the World Golf Hall of Fame. It turns out there are some bodies missing from the Hall, and the perps haven’t left a clue (because you can’t leave what you don’t have) to explain why Lanny Wadkins, Curtis Strange, Hubert Green and Tom Weiskopf, for example, who won six majors and 73 Tour titles among them, aren’t in. Weiskopf has never even made it onto the ballot! This gumshoe wanted answers.

I tightened the belt of my battered raincoat, turned up the collar, tilted a gray fedora down over my eyebrows, and lit up a Lucky Strike. All of which was pointless because I wasn’t going any farther than my study and cigarettes make me blow chunks, but, hey, I like to play dress up.

I called in some favors from my golf snitches to find out who does the voting for the Hall, who chooses the voters, and what these idiots are smoking. Within hours I had my answer, a cleverly coded two-word phrase, ending in “off,” which suggested that my questions had struck a nerve.

It looked more and more like I was going to have to do some real detective work. So I punched “PGA Tour Hall of Fame” into Google, moved Ziggy the beagle off the desk and put my feet up. Now we were getting somewhere. The search results shocked me like a headcheese belch in a Wisconsin deli. There were absolutely no men in the Hall, only women! Then it dawned on me… the L is just slightly below and to the left of the P on my keyboard. Yeah, I do in fact type with beagle paws.

I splashed cold water on my face, and glanced in the toothpaste-spattered mirror in my bath room. It had been a grueling few minutes, and the evidence was on my face. Like a goat staring at a wristwatch, I just couldn’t understand. And it looked like I might have to eat it. Although it burned my raisins to have to do it, I called the Park Avenue cube farm that produces this magazine and asked for some help working the thingy. They were polite and all that, so I fired up another Lucky, puked in the trash can, and waited for a call back.

It turns out that the PGA Tour voting body is made up of journalists, with a side order of historians and dignitaries, some of who are still alive, and holding grudges. It didn’t take me long to figure out that the missing victims have one thing in common: in their big-dog days they all had a tendency to tell journalists, historians and dignitaries where to stick their pencils, history and dignity. Straight talkers, my kind of guys. So now we had a motive. For $50 a day plus expenses, you can wrap me in Scotch tape and tear it off slowly, but I’m beginning to think someone is afraid that this character Wadkins might approach one of these voting stiffs from behind and try to slip a C-note into his tweed underpants.

The Strange guy was the best player in the world when he won back-to-back U.S. Opens in ’88 and ’89, and Hubert Green won one of his majors under a death threat, and is surviving another one. And the word on the street is that there’s a good chance that someone will kill Wadkins every week. Whatever. They should all be in this World Golf tin of peas, including that big gun-happy weirdo, Weiskopf. These guys aren’t in the same category as Barry Bonds or Pete Rose. You can put an asshole after their names if it makes you happy, but not an asterisk. And while I’m yelling into the phone at you, I can tell you for a fact that Fuzzy Zoeller is not a card-carrying Ku Klux Klansman, either. For God’s sake, the man’s middle name is Urban. Now I’m gonna see if I can get this freak Weiskopf to glue a possum on his head, and pretend he’s holding something that can cut you. It might get him on the ballot. Don’t laugh, it worked for a skinny Puerto Rican called Chi Chi. At least, that’s what the evidence tells me.

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