Named for his paternal grandfather, Robert Tyre Jones, Jr. is born on March 17, 1902, in Atlanta, to Robert and Clara Jones, and grows up across the street from East Lake Country Club.
By the age of six, he is playing golf. Instead of formal lessons, he tags behind East Lake’s golf pro Stewart Maiden, mimicking the Scotsman’s swing. He wins his first competition at the East Lake Children’s Tournament.
At 14, Jones wins the Georgia State Amateur Championship. He becomes the youngest competitor in the U.S. Amateur at Merion Cricket Club near Philadelphia, losing the quarterfinal.
FIRST MAJOR WIN
Bobby Jones wins his first major championship in 1923, the U.S. Open at Inwood Country Club in New York. He defeats professional Bobby Cruickshank in an 18-hole playoff by two strokes. Jones ends what sportswriter and friend O.B. Keeler describes as the “Seven Lean Years,” and begins what the writer later calls the “Seven Fat Years."
TWO OPENS, TWO WINS
1926 is the year Bobby Jones becomes the only amateur to win both the U.S. and British Open championships in the same year, winning at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio and Royal Lyham & St. Annes Golf Club on England’s west coast.
Jones arrives home from England to a hero’s welcome — New York City’s traditional ticker tape parade up Broadway. Throngs of Americans cheer him on as he is hoisted on two men’s shoulders and triumphantly paraded through the streets.
THE GRAND SLAM
Bobby Jones is the only golfer to win the Grand Slam, four major tournaments in one calendar year, 1930. In the space of four months, the playing order is: the British Amateur, the British Open, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur. When Jones wins all four, the sports world searches for ways to capture the magnitude of his accomplishment, until The Atlanta Journal’s O.B. Keeler perfectly dubs it the “Grand Slam.”
On Nov. 17, 1930, Bobby Jones stuns the world by announcing his retirement from golf at the age of 28. He returns to his law practice, but remains active in the sport.
HOW I PLAY GOLF
In March 1931, Warner Bros. short films, “How I Play Golf”, begin shooting in Hollywood. Each of the 12 films develops around a loose storyline and theme with a golf lesson by Bobby Jones. Because of the tremendous popularity of Jones, many Hollywood stars volunteer to appear in the films. Among the notables are James Cagney, W.C. Fields, Loretta Young, Harold Lloyd and Guy Kibee.
These short films remain classics to this day, not only for the teaching techniques that are still helpful to today’s golfers, but also the entertainment value.
THE MASTERS BEGINS
In March 1934, Bobby Jones co-founds the Augusta National Invitation Tournament (later named the Masters) at his newly completed dream course, Augusta National Golf Club, which he co-designs with Alister MacKenzie.
At the inaugural tournament, Jones plays his first competitive tournament since retirement. The Masters at Augusta National proves to be his lasting gift to the game.
1975 - TODAY
The annual Bobby Jones Award, established by the U.S. Golf Association in 1955, honors a person who, by a single act or over the years, emulates Jones’s sportsmanship, respect for the game, its rules, generosity of spirit, sense of fair play, self-control, and perhaps even sacrifice.
Bobby Jones dies on December 18, 1971 and is buried at Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery. When the news reaches St. Andrews, golfers stop their play and the flag at the clubhouse is lowered to half-mast. St. Andrews renamed the 10th hole in honor of Jones.
Character. Integrity. Respect. Passion. Excellence. A legend in his own time and for all time.