Locke and I have brush with US law

Bobby Locke and I had just finished playing in White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia and had to get to the Piping Rock course on Long Island for a Pro-Am on the Sunday. We were driving along the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bobby’s Cadillac at a steady 85 miles an hour and Bobby was telling me a story.

Max (right) with Bobby Locke (left). Also in picture Harry Weetman (second left) and Ken Adwick

I knew the speed limit was 65 miles and hour and had noticed that there was a white Ford behind us keeping a steady distance. I remember seeing the white shirt sleeve of the driver, who had his elbow sticking out of the window.

After a few moments I interrupted Bobby and said that I thought there was a police car following us. He looked in the mirror. “No,” he replied. “They don’t have white police cars in this state.” And he carried on with his story.

As we came off the Turnpike and slowed to pay the toll, the Ford passed us and pulled into the side. Sure enough, it was a police car.

Out stepped a burly ginger-haired policeman, who shouted to us to stay where we were. Bobby had by this time been doing some quick mental arithmetic.

“You could be up for $180 Max,” Bobby said. “It’s $10 for each mile per hour over the limit.”

“What the hell are you talking about,” I replied. “It’s your bloody car.” But of course he was bluffing me.

The policeman made us get out of the car. As we were both wearing colourful plus-twos, we must have looked like a vaudeville act. He said he was going to charge us with speeding and would drive us to see the local Justice of the Peace.

Bobby explained that we had to play in a big golf tournament on Long Island the next day and ended by saying: “Surely there’s some way out of this?”

“Bribery, Huh?” the policeman yelled, and he made as if to pull his gun out of its holster. “Get in my car,” he commanded.

We were driven about 15 miles to the house of the local JP and were made to sit down and wait. We were really shaken by this time because the policeman had told us: “You might be here only a day or two but you could be here a week.”

After some time, the Justice came out with the policeman. We were referred to as “a couple of limeys” and were made to swear an oath.

After hearing the charge, the Justice said he would let us go with a fine of $18. Both our faces lit up and Bobby paid on the spot.

Having played the tough cop all the time so far, it was remarkable the change which came over the policeman as he was driving us back. He could not have been more friendly and we ended up giving him some golf balls.

Lucky break

This was a lucky break for me. I had come 7th in the White Sulphur Springs tournament, earning $750, and at Piping Rock I came second in the Pro-Am playing with an American lady amateur, making another $500.

And then I broke the course record in the one-day tournament on the following day. All the top Americans were there, including Hogan, Snead and Mangrum. I was nearly last out and everyone in the clubhouse thought that Mangrum had won it with a 69. But I came in with 68.

They refused to give me my prize money until almost everyone had left the course. I was waiting around until an official told me they would give me the cheque for $1,000 – more than I had won for my Open victory two years earlier – in the club office.

There was no prize giving because they were so embarassed that a little-known Englishman had won.

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