In August, MarkCubbedge, the chief artifact finder for the World Golf Hall of Fame, invadedthe Dallas home of new inductee Lanny Wadkins to gather items to exhibit at theHall. As Cubbedge followed Wadkins through his 12-foot front door to a paneledoffice full of trophies, plaques, medals and framed photos, he looked likeOliver Twist at Whole Foods. "Lanny, this is incredible," Cubbedgesaid.
"It's just mystuff," said the 59-year-old Wadkins, who had 21 Tour victories, includingthe 1977 PGA Championship.
And what stuff itwas. Cubbedge pointed to a star-spangled Ryder Cup bag from 1983. "You hita wedge to a foot on the last hole," he said. That Cup-clinching shot ledU.S. captain Jack Nicklaus to kiss Lanny's grass—he picked up the divot andsmooched it. Wadkins's wedge was long gone, to Cubbedge's chagrin. But here wasthe driver he used to win the PGA, a persimmon MacGregor M-85.
"Funny,"said Wadkins, "this clubhead used to look huge." Not anymore; it wasthe size of a modern five-metal.
Each itemtriggered a memory. Here was a $4 check from Ben Hogan dated June 12, 1981,with a note: Enclosed is my check for $4.00 for your skins yesterday. "Hewas in his 60s and still as long off the tee as I was," Wadkins said.
Wadkins fetched aladder so Cubbedge could reach the 1988 Hawaiian Open trophy on a top shelf.The trophy was a bronzed pineapple. "The tee markers at Hawaii were realpineapples," said Wadkins. "Doug Sanders would slice them open andsnack on 'em."
Cubbedge gave thetrophy the white-glove treatment, donning museum gloves to bubble-wrap and packit along with 100 other items. Each was cataloged and photographed. Only oncedid the inductee get melty. Holding a photo of his father, Jerry, a truckdriver who paid $250 to join a small country club in Virginia in the 1950s,Wadkins said, "I started out pulling his cart on weekends. Played the gameso I could be near him." This Hall thing was cool to Wadkins mainly as ason and a father, he said. His sons, Travis and Tucker, were too young to seehim in his prime. "I told them their pop was good," Watkins said."Maybe this'll help convince them some people could play before Tiger camealong."
Cubbedge and threecolleagues packed the goods into a pair of SUVs. Unwilling to trust theartifacts to anyone else, they would drive them to St. Augustine, Fla., wherethey will be put on display when Wadkins is inducted on Nov. 2. Wadkins stoodon his porch, waving. "Take care of my stuff!"
GREG NELSON (WADKINS, TROPHY, CHECK)
SPOILS OF VICTORY Wadkins donated clubs with a history, his PGA trophy and a coveted check from Hogan.