Cover image for On a par with murder
Title:
On a par with murder
Author:
Logue, John.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Dell Publ., [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
276 pages ; 18 cm
General Note:
"A Morris and Sullivan mystery."--Cover.
Language:
English
Subject Term:
ISBN:
9780440224006
Format :
Book

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Central Library X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

He was young and talented--a golfing phenom with the whole world
in his hands...and a killer on his trail...

He made the whole world go weak at the knees. With his skill, grace, and innocence, young golfing phenom Buddy Martin even won over the cynical press corps. And with legions of fans following his every move, Buddy Martin was headed for the promised land: a victory at this year's U.S. Open on Long Island's famous Shinnecock Hills golf course.

But somewhere between the fairways and the sea, between the fog that rolled in at night and the fates that haunt heroes, tragedy would strike Buddy Martin and the one person who really knew him. Now legendary golf writer John Morris and his friend, Julia Sullivan, are delving into the life and times of a golfing great. And what they find is a story more amazing than the myth itself: a story of love, loss, and murder....


Author Notes

John Logue's seven previous novels include four other Morris and Sullivan mysteries, A Rain of Death , The Feathery Touch of Death , Murder on the Links , and Follow the Leader . John Logue worked as a sportswriter for ten years at The Atlanta Journal . He lives in Birmingham, Alabama.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The Shinnecock Hills golf course on Long Island is the perfect backdrop for Logue's fifth installment (after Follow the Leader) in his Morris and Sullivan mystery series. Attending the 1995 U.S. Open, the journalist duo is immediately caught up in the excitement surrounding Buddy Morrow, golf's latest phenom. Despite unscrupulous agents, manufacturer's reps and a bloodthirsty press all vying for his attention, Morrow manages to keep his cool, tie for second-round lead in the Open and sign a $2-million deal with a sporting goods company. When Morrow turns up dead that night, the list of suspects is long‘and the shocking secret about his true identity is revealed. The sheriff considers the case closed after Morrow's wife commits suicide, but John Morris and Julia Sullivan suspect her death was no confession and so begin their own investigation. Despite Logue's heavy dose of golf terminology, trivia and history‘which will be appreciated by golf fans but may distract other readers‘this is a clever, racy mystery. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

Wednesday, June 14 9:00 A.M Morris was asleep, Manhattan traffic be damned, before Sullivan even pointed the rental Ford over the George Washington Bridge. "Some lover," Sullivan said into the lonesome blues music she'd found on the radio dial. She patted Morris on his bad knee, causing him to deny something aloud in his dreams. "Don't think you can get away with anything, just because you're asleep," she said, fitting the Ford in among the traffic restless to escape the city. Impossibly far down under the bridge, the Hudson River had never shone more brilliantly since the Dutch sailed into the harbor. After crossing the less spectacular Throgs Neck Bridge, where the East River merges into Long Island Sound, Sullivan pushed the eager Ford onto the busy lanes of Interstate 495. How could so many people, on a Wednesday morning, be abandoning the great engine of New York City? Didn't anybody have to work? She was careful not to say the word work aloud; she did not want to contaminate Morris's dreams, even if they were a fantasy of girls he had never known as a young man. With all the traffic blasting along the four-lane asphalt in both directions, it was impossible to know they were fleeing east on an island. Sullivan waved a kiss when she passed the turnoff to MacArthur Airport, where she'd parked her precious Gulfstream jet among the fleet of company planes on which dedicated CEOs, always ready to sacrifice, had flown greedy executive customers to a week of perks at the U.S. Open. Ah, American business, you had to love it. She did not wake John Morris as she turned south on Highway 24, passing through the beautiful Sears Bellows County Park, a refuge for marine life and wildlife as untamed as a thousand years ago. Sullivan had to smile at the five-story-high Suffolk County sheriff's office rising up on the west side of the highway, with SHERIFF OTIS HAGGARD up in one-foot-high letters. With luck, we'll never meet ol' Otis professionally, thought Sullivan. But that wasn't the sort of luck fate had in mind. Highway 24 quickly emptied into Highway 80, and Sullivan shook John Morris as she neared the Shinnecock Canal, connecting Great Peconic Bay with Shinnecock Bay and linking Long Island Sound with the Atlantic Ocean. "My God, where are we? What happened to New York City?" Morris said, rubbing his eyes, then reaching for his cane as if to steady himself inside the moving automobile. Sullivan, turning left at Hampton Bays, slowed just past the huge Spellman's Marine Boat Storage, so that Morris could look down on the Shinnecock Canal. Private yachts and sailing boats and little runabouts were tethered to their moorings on the west marina like bright floating toys waiting for a child's eager hand to set them free. "Good Lord, we're almost to Shinnecock Hills," Morris said. "The man's all journalist," Sullivan said. On the eastern side of the canal, Sullivan turned north to "Old 27," as that Mississippi icon, Willie Morris, loved to remember the original highway, from the years when he held forth in Bobby Vann's saloon in Bridgehampton. John Morris had first met him in those "days of wine and roses." Ironically, he and Willie and Edwin Gower, that ultimate New Yorker, had collaborated on what turned out to be a significant pictorial book of the American South. Morris was now very much awake. "Do you remember the first time we ever visited the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club?" he asked. "Oh, yes," Sullivan said. "It was 1986, in the early spring. Two months before that year's Open. You wanted to see the "grand old course before the assault of commercial television and the unwashed thousands.' Unfortunately, you were driving, Morris. The last time I remember you driving anywhere. Of course, we were lost." "We were not lost. You were talking. And not looking. It slipped past us." "Just like that: the oldest golf club in America "slipped past us' without a sound. Oh, no. You missed it. You were looking for a grand entrance. Guards at the gatehouse, that sort of thing." "True," Morris admitted, pleased to remember, having turned around and headed back west on Old 27, catching a glimpse of a red flag and a swatch of golf green. Then turned north between a modest conifer and a clutch of yearling maples--up a humble asphalt road that looked like it might lead to an aging farmhouse. And then a short way along, and there it was--high on the hill: Stanford White's original clubhouse. It had been late on a Friday afternoon in April 1986. Only a few cars were parked in the small, unpaved lot for "members and guests," just off the practice range. They'd climbed a couple of hundred yards up the hill, past the free-standing pro shop on the left and the large, rolling practice putting and chipping green on the right. Morris knew only one member, the erudite sportscaster Jack Whitaker, but he was unlikely to be on the grounds late on a Friday afternoon in April, with a cold, damp wind blowing off the Atlantic Ocean. The long, narrow, white-shingled country house looked like a steamboat sailing on a green sea, with its flying columns and famous veranda and the club flag blowing in the breeze over the eastern bow, where a tiny clutch of serious men were dealing cards behind the glass walls of the foredeck. They'd gone up the five steps past a low privet hedge, a stack of common cordwood, and in between the formal line of white Ionic columns onto the wooden veranda, which supported modest green pots of old-fashioned red geraniums. Unchallenged as interlopers, they'd stepped inside the main sitting room, entirely empty save for the prints on the wall and the furniture on the floor. The room ran the width of the clubhouse and opened onto the northern veranda, looking down on the 9th green. In its understated elegance it might have been the quiet lobby of a small, very expensive British hotel, complete with a tiny opening for an unmanned "front desk" in the eastern wall. In the southwest corner was an old grand piano, left carefully unrefinished, that Chopin might have rehearsed on as a young man. Green wicker chairs surrounded a scattering of low, glass-topped tables for four. A sofa, backed by a long table under a sunburst of cut flowers, divided the wide room. A fireplace promised a warm winter nook in the western wall. Down from it, on a low table, stood a two-foot-high silver Founder's Cup, a relic from the nineteenth-century competition among the USGA's five founding golf clubs: Shinnecock Hills, Chicago Golf Club, Country Club of Brookline, St. Andrews Golf Club of Yonkers, New York, and Newport Golf Club. On the wall behind the cup was a black and white photograph of the Shinnecock Hills clubhouse, taken in the spring of 1892, a simple view of the first golfing clubhouse in America. Hung plainly on the walls of the main room were antique prints of legendary golf holes from the Old World: Walton Heath, Old Course, 16th hole; St. Andrews, 5th and 18th holes; Sunningdale, 4th green; The Royal St. George, Sandwich. Opening off the northwest corner of the main room was the bar, with its round marble-topped tables and green iron chairs of Chinese Chippendale. The end of the bar looked out over the first tee and down onto the western half of the course. A splash of Peconic Bay caught the sunlight like a distant mirror. To the west stood the signature windmill of the National Golf Links, which touched Shinnecock Hills, as did the Southampton Course, a remarkable golfing triumvirate for one narrow peninsula. Morris learned that golfers standing on the high 13th tee of Shinnecock Hills could see, from the only spot on the course, Peconic Bay to the north and Shinnecock Bay to the south. The great Atlantic Ocean rolled unseen some three miles farther south. On the wall of the bar was a whimsical black and white photograph of Centennial Day in August 1991, with the Shinnecock membership posing for the world in hats and long dresses and knickers, like a summer's day in the last decade of the nineteenth century. And there was a true image of one James Foulis, in bow tie and cap, having just won the second U.S. Open, played, of course, at Shinnecock Hills. A century passed in the distance of a few feet on the bar wall to the shining face of forty-three-year-old Raymond Floyd, being hugged by his wife and daughter, having won, June 15, 1986, the U.S. Open, over the historic links of Shinnecock Hills. The bar opened onto the northern veranda, looking down onto the 9th green, which washed like a green wave high above the 9th fairway. Unseen from the veranda, with its low boxes of red impatiens lending a quiet cheer, was the finishing 18th green, which sprawled below the great height of the 9th. Morris had counted. There were five steps down to a possible immortality. This Wednesday, the eve of the 1995 Open, presented a much more formidable presence at the entrance to Shinnecock Hills than had the lone conifer and yearling maples of April 1986. Security guards waited with serious frowns on their faces, too aware of the limited parking spaces even for members, not to say the thousands of fans expected each day. Sullivan guided the Ford Taurus among the guards, lifting her precious pass for inspection. Morris was sure that she would have parking privileges by the time the feast was laid for the Second Coming. They were to be rarer here than sub-par rounds over the rolling windblown Shinnecock Hills course. The club itself included just over three hundred members, requiring the U.S. Golf Association to conscript a small army of volunteers to carry off so huge and complex a production as the U.S. Open. Tickets for the Open had to be restricted to the lucky thousands, because of the limited grounds for viewing on this the oldest incorporated golf club in America. It was a gay sight, the final Wednesday of practice before the tournament proper, the people in their colorful hats and bright shirts, sitting in temporary bleachers and walking the steep dunes, even posing on the grass over beer and sandwiches as if it were the last of the nineteenth century and the elite of the great city had been let out for a June picnic. Of course, Sullivan also had cadged clubhouse passes, which were rarer than double-eagles. Morris, his scotch and water in hand, felt as endowed of wealth and power as the richest club member, standing again on the long wooden veranda, looking down on the fearful 9th green and across the sandhills over which long waves of brown fescue rippled with a fatal beauty. There were even patches of true Scottish thistle, planted inadvertently in the early years by the hobnailed soles of golfers from mother Scotland. He and Sullivan might have been standing on the balcony of The Royal and Ancient Clubhouse looking across the Old Course at St. Andrews. It was links golf come to America, though the Atlantic Ocean, in truth, lay out of sight to the south. The New York Times, in a rare, giddy emotional burst, wrote, "There is a genuine sense of the auld sod at this special place where the 95th United States Open will be played. You can breathe it, see it, touch it. This is American golf with a heavy burr." Oddly enough, though Shinnecock Hills has a decided "links look" to it, as if it had been shipped by boat from Scotland, the club traces its origins to France. It seems William K. Vanderbilt, of the Vanderbilt Vanderbilts, was on holiday in Biarritz, France, in the winter of 1891. He was in the company of a couple of pals, Duncan Cryder and Edward Mead, all of them members of Long Island's Southampton summer colony. The Scottish professional Willie Dunn was designing a golf course in Biarritz. Vanderbilt and his friends were curious as to how the game of golf was played. Dunn took them to a par-3 hole of 125 yards that he had laid out across a deep ravine, and lifted a few iron shots onto the green, several of them near to the pin. Vanderbilt was impressed. "Gentlemen, this beats rifle-shooting for distance and accuracy," he said in a burst of hyperbole. "It's a game I think would go in our country." Here he did not overspeak. But he could not have imagined that twenty million Americans would be playing golf, and millions more watching it on something called television, by 1995. However, it was Duncan Cryder and Edward Mead, and not Vanderbilt, who convinced Samuel Parrish and General Thomas H. Barber and other friends, to help transplant the game of golf to their own Southampton, Long Island. Scotsman Willie Davis, golf pro at Royal Montreal, came down from Canada in 1891 to design a modest twelve-hole course for Shinnecock Hills. Davis and Samuel Parrish chose a stretch of land between Shinnecock Bay and Peconic Bay--close, in fact, as events would prove, too close, to the Long Island Rail Road line. Although it was not on the Atlantic, it had the rolling sandhills of linksland, dear to the heart of Scotsman Davis. Nearly all of the construction work for the course--using horse-drawn road-scrapers--was done by 150 Shinnecock Indians of the Algonquin Nation, who had lived since the fifteenth century on the eastern end of Long Island. A tradition of employment of Shinnecock Indians to maintain the Shinnecock course survived on into the 1990s, with one Peter Smith reigning as course superintendent. An early hazard for golfers at Shinnecock Hills was a family of bald eagles that would swoop down on the course and pluck up golf balls off the fairways and greens. Many years later Jimmy Demaret and Jackie Burke would build Champions Club in Houston, with trees full of fat squirrels who would race across the practice putting green and grab up golf balls and carry them to their nests like round pecans, to the delight of Demaret and Burke. Morris had seen the squirrels and wished he could have seen the eagles. In 1892, Stanford White designed the Shinnecock Hills clubhouse. It sat on the hill, a classic white-shingled country house. Four years later railroad mogul Harry Kendall Thaw shot White dead on the roof garden of Madison Square Garden (which White had designed) for allegedly having an affair with Thaw's wife. Morris thought, Better White had been golfing and rocking on the veranda at Shinnecock Hills. In the 1890s Shinnecock men played their golf in white knickers and red coats with brass buttons. Private golf clubs were to become bastions of male exclusivity for generations. But America's first golf club permitted women members from the first day until now. Shinnecock's Beatrix Hoyt, playing in a long skirt with a wonderful mass of dark hair piled on her head, won the U.S. Amateur in 1896, 1897, and 1898. Her fellow member Mrs. C. S. Brown had won the first Women's Amateur in 1895. Women could play on the main course at Shinnecock Hills, but they also had their own nine-hole "Red Course." Modern Red Tees for women very likely spring from this course. Morris loved the old black-and-white photograph of Charles Blair MacDonald, swinging in his knee socks, wool cap, and coat and tie, winning the first U.S. Amateur championship in 1895 at Newport. The first U.S. Open was won the same year--in fact, the next day--at the same Newport Club, by Horace Rawlins, sporting a full weeping mustache. He defeated longtime Shinnecock Hills club pro Willie Dunn, the same Scotsman who had demonstrated the game of golf to Vanderbilt and Cryder and Mead in Biarritz. Rawlins's prize money was $150, tax free. In 1896, Shinnecock Hills hosted the U.S. Amateur, won by H. G. Whigham, a foreign newspaper correspondent from Great Britain and the son-in-law of Charles Blair MacDonald, who was reportedly felled that year by ptomaine poisoning. Shinnecock hosted the U.S. Open the same week in '96, won by James Foulis, who turned thirty-six holes in 152 strokes. In those days the big news was the Amateur. The Open was a casual affair dominated by rather anonymous professionals. In 1896 John Shippen, the son of a Presbyterian minister and schoolmaster on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, became the first black man to play in the Open. His presence was not universally appreciated. Several British professionals protested playing in the same tournament with a black man and with an American Indian--Oscar Bunn of the Shinnecock tribe. Shippen had helped build the Shinnecock course, and he and Bunn had caddied there and learned to play the game there, being taken under the wing of club pro Dunn. The USGA's first president, Theodore A. Havemeyer, founder of the Newport Club, told the British protesters: "Gentlemen, you can leave or stay as you please. We are going to play this tournament with them--and with or without you." Morris knew it to be a tragedy that this democratic resolve died with the 1896 U.S. Open. It would be eighty-five years before another black American, Jim Thorpe, played in the Open at Merion, where Morris saw him shoot a splendid opening 66 before falling back in the field. John Shippen scored a solid 78 to tie for the first-round lead of the 1896 Open. Unhappily, he took a fat 11 on the 13th hole, in the second and final round. But finished in a tie for fifth place. In 1928 Suffolk County ordered a highway built parallel to the Long Island Rail Road, dooming Shinnecock's original golf course, which had been expanded to eighteen holes by Dunn. Shinnecock member Lucien Tyng personally bought land for a new golf course north and east of the clubhouse and donated it to the membership. William Flynn laid out the new course. He is also remembered for having designed Cherry Hills in Denver, a favored Open venue, not to overlook his timeless creation, Merion East. Flynn designed a par-70 course, playing to 6,749 yards, an immediate classic and a marvelous test of golf. The par-3 holes were of a great variety and much admired by first-rate golfers lucky enough to test them. The long par 4s played with the prevailing southwest wind, and the short par 4s played into it. The course was completed in 1931 and was very much ignored by the high priests of the American game until long after World War II. In 1967, on a nostalgic whim, the USGA held its Senior Amateur, a decidedly low-profile event, at Shinnecock Hills. The course, with its linkslike beauty and classic windblown challenge, lingered in the mind. Then came the 1977 Walker Cup matches. America's amateurs and Britain's amateurs were impressed--with the golf course. After a mere ninety years, so was the USGA. Frank Hannigan first suggested Shinnecock for the U.S. Open. He convinced other USGA officers and Shinnecock president Virgil Sherrill. And the Open was on at Shinnecock Hills--for 1986. Even Ben Hogan himself approved, and he was not an easy man to impress, but once he traveled to Southampton to play the course. Hogan was never an easy man to impress. He found, ". . . each hole different . . . requiring a great amount of skill to play it properly . . . one of the finest courses I have ever played." Ben Crenshaw, in a friendly round long before the '86 Open, scored an unprecedented 65 at Shinnecock but declined to claim the course record, having taken two tee shots at the first hole. Ever the historian, Crenshaw called Shinnecock "blessed golf terrain." And later he said, "If they broadcast the Open from there, it ought to be on the radio." Morris could picture the last round of the 1986 Open, and the aging iron-willed Raymond Floyd, lashing an approach shot dead into the wind to the par-5 16th green for a birdie putt to give him a two-stroke lead with two holes to play--becoming at forty-three the oldest man ever to win the Open, until Hale Irwin won his third Open in 1990 at age forty-five. Rarely has there been a more popular American champion than Raymond Floyd. "John Morris, where are you?" asked a voice just to the side of him on the veranda, a voice otherwise known as Julia Sullivan. "Lost in the past. That I never saw, and only read about. Sometimes I think that's where I belong." "I don't care where you think you belong, Morris, so long as it's in my bed." "Scandalous," Morris said, lifting his glass to drink to that warm proximity. The years passed in their four seasons, and their own lives followed. It seemed longer ago than a generation, and only yesterday, to Morris--when the automobile crash had killed Monty Sullivan and left him with a ruined knee. It had been a tie as to who loved Monty the best, his own young bride, Sullivan, or Morris himself. All these years later, the two of them often lifted a toast to Monty, and they never practiced guilt for being together. Marriage? Who said that? Morris thought, smiling to himself. Excerpted from On a Par with Murder by John Logue All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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