“Among American athletes, Bobby Jones - with
his natural charm, his formidable intellect, his lovableness, his high
standard of values, his courage, his gift for friendship - stands by
himself. He had a rare Churchillian 'size' about him: at one and the same
time he was much larger than life and also intensely human. There was
something else about him that stays in the herd of his friends on both
sides of the Atlantic.”
Herbert Warren Wind
The story of Bobby Jones is a landmark in sports history. Born in Atlanta
in 1902, Jones became recognized as a prodigy at golf. At the age of
fourteen, he played to the third round of the National Amateur.
It was in 1921 that the nineteen-year-old Jones, relatively unknown
on the international circuit, first arrived at the Royal and Ancient
Golf Club of St. Andrews to compete in the British Open. That was
only the beginning, as the great amateur went on to win thirteen of
the world's toughest championships. In 1930 at the age of twenty-eight,
Jones won the British and United States Open, and Amateur championships
- the first Grand Slam.
After making his Grand Slam in 1930, he retired from competitive golf
and continued his development as a true Renaissance man. He studied
law at Emory. (He had earned degrees in mechanical engineering from
Georgia Tech and English literature from Harvard before his victory
in a major tournament.) He was as knowledgeable in English Literature
as he was talented in golf, and his mechanical engineering training
proved an invaluable resource for his design of the Masters course in
At the age of forty-six, an exploratory operation revealed that he
was suffering from a rare disease that resulted in progressive paralysis.
Alistair Cooke recalls an incident of Bobby's later years when an old
friend asked him about his physical distress: " Well now, let's
not talk about it. We play the ball, you know, as it lies."
Jones died in 1971 at the age of sixty-nine. He will continue to be
remembered as a man who accepted life with humility, integrity, and
wisdom, and who rendered it a triumph through the strength and grace
of his character.
"Bobby Jones was not only the best player in
the world, probably the best there had ever been, but by all odds the
most attractive sports hero of the day. Even by people who knew no golf,
he was idolized on both sides of the Atlantic for his god-given combination
of flashing good looks, wry humour and unflagging modesty. He became,
and remained until the day of his death, the First Gentleman of Golf."