Matthew Bates begins a new series profiling the golfing greats with a look at the remarkable life and times of the legendary Bobby Jones. Today, the likelihood of a golfer winning two professional majors and two amateur majors in one year is extremely thin. In fact, only one man has achieved the feat in the whole history of the game, and golf wasn't even his day job. That man is American Bobby Jones, who in 1930 achieved his very own grand slam, by winning the US Open, The Open Championship, and the US and British Amateur Championships, before retiring the very same year. Despite being one of the best players that ever lived, Jones was a lawyer and only played golf about the same number of times a year as a recreational player would today. Overall, he won the US Open four times, the Open Championship three times, the US Amateur five times and the British Amateur once.
Jones makes his mark at the US Amatuer
was born on 17 March, 1902, in Atlanta, Georgia, and quickly took an interest in golf, entering the 1916 US Amateur Championship aged just 14. Amazingly, he led after the first qualifying round and reached the third round of the knockout stages, where he was defeated by defending champion Bob Gardner. Jones made it to the final in 1919, but was defeated comfortably, and although he may have made a huge impact in the golfing world with his performance in the amateur event, he had to wait until 1923 to win his first major championship. It was seven years after his explosive introduction, but Jones's victory at the US Open at the Inwood Country Club, New York, was the catalyst for the amazing run of performances and victories in his next seven years that saw him become one of the best players ever.
A lawyer first, a golfer second
Jones's first love was not golf, it was his profession as a lawyer. He graduated from Georgia Tech University with a mechanical engineering degree aged just 18, and graduated from Harvard three years later, completing his English degree in only three semesters. Eventually, Jones joined his father's law firm after spending time at Emory Law School in Atlanta. And even with all the other things that were going on in Jones's life, he still battled it out with golf's best players and at the age of 24 became the first man to win the US Open and the Open Championship in the same year. It was a superb achievement, especially when you consider that Jones was playing against men who donated their whole lives to the game. The golfing world was so impressed by the victories that he was given a ticker tape parade on Broadway, New York. It wasn't to be the only time that he would experience such adulation from golfing fans.
Jones bows out
Jones finally meets his match
the same year and at the age of 53, he was finally diagnosed with syringomyelia - a disease where cysts grow on the spinal cord - after suffering from it for 10 years without knowing what disease it was he had. Jones had been a captain in the US Army during the Second World War, and it was not long after that he started to suffer. However, it didn't stop him from writing books on golf, as between 1960 and 1969 he wrote many books with the help of Keeler. But in 1971, Jones finally succumbed, and passed away leaving the golfing world mourning the death of a great champion who played the game in the right way.
Amen, the legacy among the azaleas
Jones may have gone, but he left his books and films behind for everyone to see, as well as his most beautiful and creative invention. Augusta Country Club is one of the most well known golf courses in the world. The course, situated in Jones's state of Georgia, is the home of the Masters and has some of the most recognisable holes in golf, such as the par-three 12th. Jones saw the land as perfect for a golf course, and drafted in top architect Alistair McKenzie to design it. In the first tournament it held, Jones got his clubs out for one last time, attracting crowds from all over the country as he finished in 13th place. The Masters had been born. And although Jones may have passed away over 35 years ago, the course he so beautifully crafted lives on, as does his legacy as one of, if not the best of all time.
- Matthew Bates, for golf.co.uk
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