Bobby Speaks

“It is nonsense to talk about who was the greatest golfer in the world. All you can say is that there have been none greater than Bobby Jones.” – Tommy Armour (1894 to 1968), The Silver Scot, won three Majors: 1927 U.S. Open; 1930 PGA and 1931 British Open

There is only one reason why there is an Augusta National GC and a Masters Tournament: Bobby Jones’s (1902 – 1971). (Yes, I know that he co-founded the club with investment banker Clifford Roberts and that he shares course-design credit with Alister MacKenzie.)

There would be no Magnolia Lane, Founders Circle, Champion’s Dinner, Crow’s Nest, hole names (i.e. Juniper, Pink Dogwood, Yellow Jasmine, Holly), the named bridges – Hogan, Nelson, Sarazen, Amen Corner – holes 12, 13 and 14, azaleas, pimento cheese sandwiches, Butler cabin or the green-jacket ceremony unless he had won – and won a lot! Just take a look at his playing career:

“Professional” Majors Won: 7 (1923 U.S. Open, 1926 U.S. Open, 1926 British Open, 1927 British Open, 1929 U.S. Open, 1930 U.S. Open, 1930 British Open). “Amateur” Majors Won: 6 (1930 British Amateur, 1924, ‘25’, ‘27, ’28 & ‘30 U.S. Amateur). During his era, the four Majors were the British Amateur, British Open, U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur. All told, Jones, who never gave up his amateur status, played in 31 Majors from 1923 to 1930, winning 13 times and finishing in the Top 10 27 times. His BIGGEST YEAR was 1930 when he won all four Majors.* It is considered by many to be the GREATEST YEAR EVER BY A PLAYER! He retired that same year from competitive golf despite being just 28.

As his World Golf Hall of Fame bio says, “Beginning with his victory in the 1923 U.S. Open at Inwood and ending with his U.S. Amateur victory at Merion in 1930, Jones won 13 championships in 20 tries, the most imposing run of major titles the game has ever seen.”

*The Amateur Championship, Old Course at St Andrews (May 31, 1930), British Open, Royal Liverpool GC at Hoylake (June 20, 1930), U.S. Open, Interlachen CC (July 12, 1930), U.S. Amateur, Merion GC (Sept. 27, 1930)

Before Jones’s tournament begins, I thought it would be fun -- and revealing -- to share his golf thoughts.

On Augusta National: “There isn’t a hole out there that can’t be birdied if you just think. But there isn’t one that can’t be double-bogeyed if you stop thinking.”

“There are two distinct kinds of golf – just plain golf and tournament golf. Golf – the plain variety – is the most delightful of games. An enjoyable, companionable pastime; tournament golf is thrilling, heartbreaking, terribly hard work – a lot of fun when you are young with nothing much on your mind, but fiercely punishing in the end.”

”Golf is assuredly a mystifying game. It would seem that if a person has hit a golf ball correctly a thousand times, he should be able to duplicate the performance at will. But this is certainly not the case.”

I get as much fun as the next man from whaling the ball as hard as I can and catching it squarely on the button. But from sad experience, I learned not to try this in a round that meant anything.”

“Many shots are spoiled at the last instant by efforts to add a few more yards.”

“I should say that the most important movement of the swing would be to start the downswing by beginning the unwinding of the hips. … There can be no power, and very little accuracy or reliability, in a swing in which the left hip does not lead the downstroke.”

“Golf is said to be a humbling game, but it is surprising how many people are either not aware of their weaknesses or else reckless of consequences.”

“Whenever it becomes necessary to drop the ball dead upon the green, it is always better to press the shorter club than to spare the more powerful one.”

“Since it is beyond all reasonable expectations that a person may hole a chip shot, little will be gained by playing always for the hole … There are times when a four-foot uphill putt is a far less annoying proposition than one of half that length across a keen slope.”

“The difference between a sand trap and water is the difference between a car crash and an airplane crash. You have a chance of recovering from a car crash.”

On putting: “The best system for me is to stroke the ball with as smooth a swing as I can manage, and try always to gauge an approach putt, or any putt except the short holing-out efforts, to reach the hole with a dying ball.”

Watch Away!
Allan Stark

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