Imagine Golf Blogs

The greatest amateur of all time

A gentleman, a lawyer, an Army Veteran, a golfing legend... Bobby Jones

Posted Aug 17, 2010 by Jeff Dawson

Bobby Jones

Having read about and watched many great golfers over the years, there is one player who I wish I’d been lucky enough to see play - especially when he was at the peak of his playing powers.

Although he never turned professional, opting to remain an amateur and play for the love of the game instead of money, American Bobby Jones was one of the greatest golfers to ever walk the planet.

He won 13 major crowns by the time he retired from competitive golf at just 28-years-old and is the only man to have ever won all four majors in one calendar year. Tiger Woods got close by winning four majors in succession but that was over the course of two years. Jones won the British Amateur, the U.S. Amateur, the British Open and the U.S. Open all in 1930, claiming the Grand Slam.

It was a remarkable achievement by a devoted family man who was also a qualified lawyer and an Army veteran.

And this is what makes Jones so special.

Can you imagine an amateur enjoying this much success today? Can you imagine someone shirking the opportunity to make millions of pounds to instead play for the love of the game? I don’t think so.

Jones’s era was an era of the gentleman. And he seemed to epitomize that more than most. From reading plenty about this great man, it’s clear that he was humble yet loved his life.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia on St. Patrick’s Day 1902, Jones had to overcome a serious illness in his formative years. He eventually beat it and at six-years-old he picked up a golf club for the first time. His family lived near the East Lake Country Club in his home city and Jones would spend hours watching the club’s professional to develop and hone his own swing – a swing said to be one of the most beautiful and natural that’s ever been seen.

Soon after this, he entered tournaments and was winning them as a child. He then became the youngster golfer to ever qualify for the U.S. Amateur Championship in 1916 aged just 14. Although he didn’t win the competition, he shocked the nation by making it to the third round before losing to the defending champion.

However, this success hurt him and it took him seven years before he finally won his first major title – the 1923 U.S. Open at Inwood, New York. He added 12 more crowns in the next seven years before his retirement at the top of his game following the grand slam success.

His legacy didn’t end there however. He created the Augusta National golf course that is today used for the U.S. Masters tournament – which remains the only major to be played at the same venue each year.

Unfortunately, the illness he suffered as a child returned in adult life and he was diagnosed with a debilitating disease of the central nervous system and haunted him for the last 20 years of his life. He died in 1971 aged 69 and upon news of his death, the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland lowered it’s flag to half mast and all golfers stopped play as the world of golf mourned the passing of one of it’s all-time greats.

It’s safe to say there will never again be another golfer like Bobby Jones and for all of those born long after his lifetime, he is one player we will sadly never get the joy of watching. A true great of the game who will never be forgotten.

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