Robert Bobby Tire Jones was born in Atlanta (Georgia) on March 17, 1902. Although he is considered one of the best golfers of all time, he was not professional, because he considered golf pleasure and not a job.
This mentality is almost inconceivable today, since at the present time high-level sport is professionalized and depends on the media, sponsors and, ultimately, money. But this was not always so. When modern sport arose, sport was understood as Bobby Jones understood it. The sport had a playful and competitive purpose (measured against others to see who was the best). Perhaps the great merit of Bobby Jones was to remain faithful to the old mentality of amateur sports that at that time was giving way to the mentality of professionalized sport.
Jones had to live with athletes who lived only for golf (as it happens today with the vast majority of high-level golfers), while he combined his career as a lawyer with sports, He practiced in his spare time. This is very difficult to understand today, because the high number of training hours of high performance athletes makes it almost impossible to combine it with a job or a university career. Actually, being a high level athlete in our society is considered a job, one of the highest paid jobs in fact. It seems unreal that things have changed so much in just 100 years.
Bobby Jones’ innate ability manifested as a child and never received golf lessons. At the age of 6, he won his first tournament at the East Lake Country Club, in whose vicinity his family lived. After obtaining several more titles, Jones became at the age of 14 the youngest player in the US Amateur Championship.
The fact of never having received golf lessons also clashes frontally with the current conception of sport, in which a thorough technical and tactical training is essential from an early age. Bobby Jones lived very close to a golf course and breathed that atmosphere since childhood. By observing, imitating and practicing a lot autonomously, he managed to become one of the best golfers of all time. Bobby Jones is an example of self-learning, willpower, perseverance, effort.., all of the values that the well-understood sport can transmit to people.
Jones was a perfectionist with the golf game and he himself underwent great psychic pressure, and in some tournament, he lost several kilograms of weight because of stress. Another of the qualities of Bobby Jones was his bad temper, so it was not uncommon to see him fury the sticks during tournaments, on one occasion he was suspended for a while on the tour.
It is curious and it is still a bit contradictory that, despite considering golf a pleasure, self-submitted to so much pressure because of competitions. While it is true, that although he did not want to get money for playing golf, Bobby Jones did want to get other things such as prestige and social recognition, fame, to be remembered as the best of all time. Although he did not want money to win, victory was as important to him as to the rest of the competitors. Surely even more, since for many others, victory was the means to obtain money, while for him victory was the greatest end.
Jones was fully aware that he was the best of his time and that he could be the best in golf history. That is why he was so perfectionist and underwent such pressure. That is why he got so angry when he failed, because he knew he could do better; because he knew he could do better than anyone else. That awareness of his great capacity, of what he was able to achieve, was what generated so much stress and what turned against him when he was not able to control it properly.
He won his greatest triumphs between 1923 and 1930, winning in 13 of the 21 (62%) national championships in which he appeared. He won the British Open three times, four times the US Open and once the British Amateur. In 1930, Jones conquered the four majors of that moment (US Open, US Amateur, British Open and British Amateur) in a year winning the Golden Grand Slam and went down in history by retiring at the age of 28.
The ultimate goal of Bobby Jones was to win the four majors in a year. He knew that if he succeeded he would always be remembered for that great feat. That is why, once achieved, he could already retire quietly and devote himself to his family and his work. He had achieved the maximum in his sports life and, from that moment, golf itself would be only a pleasure in his life . When he retired, he turned the page and left behind the stress and the great pressure he was subjected to in competitions. He chose to retire at the best moment of his career, at the top, and for this he will be remembered forever among golf lovers. With the current mentality of professionalized sport, it is very difficult to understand something like this, since when an athlete is at the top of his career, advertising offers, sponsors and, in short, the money. But for Bobby Jones, money was not the most important thing.
Although he was very young and could have continued his career as a golfer, it no longer made sense to remain under such pressure and have to give up being with his family and progressing in his work as a lawyer. The sport was very important in his life, but there were many more important things he had to put aside during his time in the sports elite. And besides golf, he would remain very present in his life, but in another way.
From then on he practiced his legal profession, wrote golf books and also taught. Jones pioneered filming golf instructional films commissioned by the Warner Brothers. He also advised the company Spalding in the construction of sticks. After rejecting 200 different models, he finally gave his approval to a set of sticks that satisfied him. They distinguished themselves from the rest by having a steel rod, a feature that would soon replace the wood that had been used until then. Another innovation was that each stick was designated by a number instead of the old Scottish names. This novelty has become standard to this day. Jones designed along with Alister Mackenzie the Augusta National Course, inspired by Old Course of St. Andrews, in England; and a few years later he created the Augusta Masters.
Although Jones left the competition, he continued to devote himself to golf in another way. With the books he wrote and the instructional films he filmed he made clear his eagerness to transmit this sport and teach people everything he knew. He did not keep his knowledge for him, but decided to share them with everyone. Along the same lines, he created the Augusta Masters, since he wanted to give more options to practice golf and compete in this sport. Also for this he will always be remembered in the world of golf.
Jones served since 1942 as captain in the US Army during World War II and took part in the Normandy landing (1944 ).
Military service was another facet that cannot be omitted in the Life Story of Bobby Jones . Golf was important to him, but it was not everything, as discussed above.
Illness & Death
In 1948 he was diagnosed with a rare disease of the central nervous system, syringomyelia, in which the cavity of the spine is filled with fluids causing first pain and then paralysis, which prevented him from playing golf again. He suffered severe pain in his back and neck. At first, he used a cane to walk, then he had to lean on crutches and, finally, he was prostrated in a wheelchair. After 22 years of suffering pain of varying intensity, he died on December 18, 1971, at the age of 69. In 1974 his name was registered in the World Golf Hall of Fame.