Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones

[johnz]
Jones, Bobby: see Jones, Robert Tyre, Jr.
in full Robert Tyre Jones, Jr.

Bobby Jones

(born March 17, 1902, Atlanta, Ga., U.S.—died Dec. 18, 1971, Atlanta) U.S. golfer. Jones won 13 major championships between 1923 and 1930, a feat unequaled until 1973. In 1930 he became the first golfer to achieve the grand-slam of his time—the British and U.S. Open and Amateur championships—after which he retired from competitive golf at the age of 28, having never become a professional. Jones helped establish the Masters Tournament, one of the four major tournaments that make up the modern grand-slam of golf (the other three being the British Open, the U.S. Open, and the PGA Championship).

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Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones Jr. (March 17, 1902 – December 18, 1971) was one of the greatest golfers to compete on a national and international level. He participated only as an amateur, primarily on a part-time basis, and chose to retire from competition at age 28.

Explaining his decision to retire, Jones said, "It (championships) is something like a cage. First you are expected to get into it and then you are expected to stay there. But of course, nobody can stay there.

Jones is most famous for his unique "Grand Slam," consisting of his victory in all four major golf tournaments of his era (the open and amateur championships in both the U.S. & Britain) in a single calendar year (1930).

Early years

Jones was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was a child prodigy, who won his first children's tournament at the age of six and made the third round of the U.S. Amateur Championship at 14. That same year, 1916, he won the Georgia State Amateur Championship for his first important title at Capital City Club located in Brookhaven, where he became an active member later in life. He was trained and coached by club professional Stewart Maiden, a native of Carnoustie, Scotland, who was a very fine player. Jones played frequently with his father, Col. Robert P. Jones, a skilled player himself. The younger Jones sometimes battled his own temper on the course, but later cured this problem as he became more experienced. Jones toured the U.S. during World War I from 1917-18, playing exhibition matches before large crowds to generate income for war relief. He qualified for his first U.S. Open at age 18 in 1920. He won the Southern Amateur three times, 1917, 1920, and 1922.

First majors

As an adult, he hit his stride in 1923, when he won his first U.S. Open. From that win at New York's Inwood Country Club, through his 1930 victory in the U.S. Amateur, he won 13 major championships (as they were counted at the time) in 20 attempts. Jones was the first player to win The Double, both the U.S. Open and the British Open in the same year (1926). He is still the only player ever to have won the Grand Slam, or all four major championships, in the same year (1930). He represented the United States in the Walker Cup five times, winning nine of his 10 matches. He also won two other tournaments against professionals: the 1927 Southern Open and the 1930 Southeastern Open. Jones was a life-long member of the Atlanta Athletic Club (at the club's original site, now the East Lake Golf Club), and the Capital City Club in Atlanta.

Jones is considered one of the five giants of the 1920s American sports scene, along with baseball's Babe Ruth, hockey's Howie Morenz, boxing's Jack Dempsey, football's Red Grange, and tennis player Bill Tilden. He was the first recipient of the AAU's Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States. He received two ticker-tape parades in New York City, the first in 1926 and the second in 1930. Jones is memorialized in Augusta, Georgia at the Golf Gardens and has the Bobby Jones Expressway, also known as Interstate 520, named for him.

Sportsmanship

Jones was not only a consummately skilled golfer, but he also exemplified the principles of sportsmanship and fair play. Early in his amateur career, he was in the final playoff of the 1925 U.S. Open at the Worcester Country Club. During the match, his ball ended up in the rough just off the fairway, and as he was setting up to play his shot his iron caused a slight movement of the ball. He immediately got angry with himself, turned to the marshals, and called a penalty on himself. The marshals discussed among themselves and questioned some of the gallery if anyone had seen Jones' ball move. Their decision was that neither they nor anyone else had witnessed any incident, so the decision was left to Jones. Bobby Jones called the two-stroke penalty on himself, not knowing that he would lose the tournament by one stroke. When he was praised for his gesture, Jones replied, "You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank." The USGA's sportsmanship award is named the Bob Jones Award in his honor.

St Andrews, Scotland

Jones had a unique relationship with the town of St Andrews, Scotland. On his first appearance on the Old Course in British Open of 1921, he withdrew after 11 holes in the third round. He firmly stated his dislike for the Old Course and the town reciprocated, saying in the press, "Master Bobby is just a boy, and an ordinary boy at that." Later, he came to love the Old Course and the town like few others. When he won the Open at the Old Course in 1927, he wowed the crowd by asking that the trophy remain with his friends at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club rather than return with him to Atlanta. In 1958, he was named a Freeman of the City of St Andrews, becoming only the second American to be so honored, the other being Benjamin Franklin in 1759. Today, a scholarship exchange bearing the Jones name exists between the University of St Andrews and both Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. At Emory, four students are sent to St Andrews for an all-expenses-paid year of study and travel. In return, Emory accepts four students from St Andrews each year. The program, the Robert T. Jones Scholarship, is among the most prestigious scholarships offered by either university.

University, family, career

Jones was successful outside of golf as well. He earned his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 1922, where he was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and played for the golf team. He then earned a B.A. in English Literature from Harvard University in 1924, where he was a member of the Owl Club. After only one year in law school at Emory University, he passed the bar exam.

Jones was married in 1924 to the former Mary Rice Malone. They had three children, Clara, Robert Tyre III, and Mary Ellen. When he retired from golf at age 28, he concentrated on his Atlanta law practice. That same year, 1930, he was honored with the first James E. Sullivan Award, awarded annually by the Amateur Athletic Union to the most outstanding amateur athlete in the United States. He did in fact turn professional at golf after he retired from competition, in order to accept fees. In addition, he made eighteen instructional films, worked with A.G. Spalding & Co. to develop the first set of matched clubs, co-designed the Augusta National course with Alister MacKenzie, and founded The Masters Tournament, first played at Augusta in March 1934. During World War II, while he was serving as an officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces, Jones permitted the U.S. Army to graze cattle on the grounds at Augusta National. Later, in 1945, he founded Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta and co-designed the course with Robert Trent Jones.

Jones did play in the Masters every year it was held until 1948, when he was 46 years old. By then, his health had declined to the stage where this was no longer possible. But with his health difficulties, and being past his prime and not competing elsewhere to stay in tournament form, he never truly contended to win the Masters, although his scores were usually respectable. These were largely ceremonial performances, since his main duty was as host of the event. His extraordinary popularity, efforts with the course design, and tournament organization boosted the profile of the Masters significantly. The tournament, jointly run by Jones and Clifford Roberts, made many important innovations which became the norm elsewhere, such as gallery ropes to control the flow of the large crowds, many scoreboards around the course, the use of red / green numbers on those scoreboards to denote under / over par scores, an international field of top players, high-caliber television coverage, and week-long admission passes for patrons, which became extremely hard to obtain. The tournament also sought and welcomed feedback from players, fans, and writers, leading to continual improvement over the years. The Masters gradually evolved to being one of the most respected tournaments in the world, one of the four major championships.

Incapacity and death

In 1948, Jones was diagnosed with syringomyelia, a fluid-filled cavity in his spinal cord which caused first pain, then paralysis. He was eventually restricted to a wheelchair. He died in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 18, 1971, about a week after becoming a Catholic, and was buried in Atlanta's historic Oakland Cemetery. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

Major championships

The Opens (7)

Year Championship 54 Holes Winning Score Margin Runners Up
1923 U.S. Open 3 shot lead +8 (71-73-76-76=296) Playoff 1 Bobby Cruickshank
1926 U.S. Open (2) 3 shot deficit +5 (70-79-71-73=293) 1 stroke Joe Turnesa
1926 The Open Championship 2 shot deficit -2 (72-72-73-74=291) 2 strokes Al Watrous
1927 The Open Championship (2) 4 shot lead -6 (68-72-73-72=285) 6 strokes Aubrey Boomer
1929 U.S. Open (3) 3 shot lead +6 (69-75-71-79=294) Playoff ² Al Espinosa
1930 U.S. Open (4) 5 shot lead -1 (71-73-68-75=287) 2 strokes Macdonald Smith
1930 The Open Championship (3) 1 shot deficit -2 (70-72-74-75=291) 2 strokes Leo Diegel, Macdonald Smith
1 Defeated Bobby Cruickshank in 18-hole playoff: Jones (76), Cruickshank (78)
² Defeated Al Espinosa in 36-hole playoff: Jones (72-69=141), Espinosa (84-80=164)

The Amateurs (6)

It is noteworthy that National Amateur championships were counted as majors until quite recently. Jones' actual major total using the standard in place in his lifetime was 13.

Results timeline

The majors of Jones's time were the U.S. and British Opens and Amateurs.

Tournament 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930
U.S. Open DNP NT NT DNP T8 T5 T2 1 2 2 1 T11 2 1 1
British Open DNP NT NT NT DNP WD DNP DNP DNP DNP 1 1 DNP DNP 1
U.S. Amateur QF NT NT 2 SF QF SF R16 1 1 2 1 1 R32 1
British Amateur DNP NT NT NT DNP R32 DNP DNP DNP DNP 2 DNP DNP DNP 1

Jones retired after his Grand Slam in 1930, playing only his own tournament, The Masters. As an amateur golfer, he was not eligible to compete in the PGA Championship.

Tournament 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948
The Masters T13 T25 33 T29 T16 T33 WD 40 T29 NT NT NT T32 56 49

NT = No tournament
DNP = Did not play
WD = Withdrew
R32, R16, QF, SF = Round in which Jones lost in amateur match play
"T" indicates a tie for a place
Green background for wins. Yellow background for top-10.

Other records

Jones' four titles in the U.S. Open remain tied for the most ever in that championship, along with Willie Anderson, Ben Hogan, and Jack Nicklaus. His four second-place finishes in the U.S. Open also tie that record, along with Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, and Phil Mickelson. His five titles in the U.S. Amateur are a record. Jones was ranked as the fourth greatest golfer of all time by Golf Digest magazine in 2000. Jack Nicklaus was first, Ben Hogan second, and Sam Snead third.

Films

Jones appeared in a series of short instructional films produced by Warner Brothers in 1931 titled How I Play Golf, by Bobby Jones (12 films) and in 1933 titled How to Break 90 (6 films). Actors and actresses, mostly under contract with Warner Brothers, but also from other studios, volunteered to appear in these 18 episodes. Some of the more well known actors to appear in the instructional plots included James Cagney, Joe E. Brown, Edward G. Robinson, W.C. Fields, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Richard Barthelmess, Richard Arlen, Guy Kibbee, Warner Oland and Loretta Young. Various scenarios involving the actors were used to provide an opportunity for Jones to convey a lesson about a particular part of the game. The shorts were directed by the prolific George Marshall.

Jones was the subject of the quasi-biographical 2004 feature film Bobby Jones: A Stroke of Genius in which he was portrayed by James Caviezel. The film was a major box office flop, grossing only $1.2 million the first weekend and $2.7 million overall, against a production cost of over $17 million. The film was also littered with historical inaccuracies. The Jones legend was also used to create a supporting character in The Legend of Bagger Vance in 2000, and the event where he called his own penalty is used for the main character, Rannulph Junuh.

Books

Jones authored several books on golf including Down the Fairway with O.B. Keeler (1927), The Rights and Wrongs of Golf (1933), Golf Is My Game (1959), Bobby Jones on Golf (1966), and Bobby Jones on the Basic Golf Swing (1968) with illustrator Anthony Ravielli.

Jones has been the subject of several books, most notably The Bobby Jones Story and A Boy's Life of Bobby Jones, both by O.B. Keeler. Other notable texts are The Life and Times of Bobby Jones: Portrait of a Gentleman by Sidney L. Matthew, The Greatest Player Who Never Lived by J. Michael Veron, and Triumphant Journey: The Saga of Bobby Jones and The Grand Slam of Golf by Richard Miller. Published in 2006, "The Grand Slam" by Mark Frost has received much note as being evocative of Jones' life and times.

Bobby Jones Golf Company

Founded in 2003, the Bobby Jones Golf Company designs, develops, and sells metal-wood golf clubs. The company has an exclusive, worldwide license agreement with the family of Bobby Jones (known as Jonesheirs, Inc.) and the internationally renowned Hartmarx Corporation for the use of the Bobby Jones name for golf equipment and golf accessories.

See also

References

External links

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