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Jones, Bobby

Bobby Jones


American golfer

Although he retired from competitive golf in 1930, at age twenty-eight, Bobby Jones is widely regarded as the greatest golfer of all time. While earning three college degrees Jones played golf as an amateur, winning thirteen of the twenty-one national championships he entered in the United States and Great Britain between 1923 and 1930. In 1930 he achieved the golfing "Grand Slam" by winning the U.S. Amateur, U.S. Open, British Amateur, and British Open Championships in the same year. He surprised the world by retiring from competition soon afterward. In retirement he wrote books and articles on golf and made a series of instructional films, while practicing law. In 1931 he helped to design and build the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. The club's tournament soon came to be known as the Masters Tournament. The Masters is one of four tournaments known as the modern Grand Slam, along with the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the American Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Championship. Jones died in 1971 after suffering for twenty-three years with a rare central nervous system disease, syringomyelia. He received numerous awards and honors, including induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

Child Prodigy

Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones, Jr., named for his grandfather, was born March 17, 1902, in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. He was the second son of Robert Purmedus Jones, an attorney who had played baseball at the University of Georgia, and Clara Merrick Thomas Jones. At age five, he and a friend laid out a small golf course in the front yard, and Jones played with a set of clubs cut down to fit his size. Soon afterward, the family moved to the suburb of East Lake, where they lived next to the East Lake golf course. There, young Jones watched the head professional golfer, Stewart Maiden, and learned to play by imitating his swing. These were the only "lessons" Jones ever had. Maiden coached him informally as the talented young golfer began to win local tournaments.

Jones played in his first U.S. Open Championship in 1920, at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, where he

tied for eighth place. In 1921 he played his first British Amateur at Hoylake, England, where he was eliminated after the fourth round. From there he entered the British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrew's, Scotland, considered the birthplace of golf, but he withdrew in frustration after the eleventh hole after missing a putt.

Winning Streak

Jones did not win a national contest until 1923. At age twenty-one, he won the U.S. Open Championship on Long Island, New York, beating both amateurs and professionals. According to Newsweek, he later recalled moving through the congratulatory crowd and thinking, "I've won a championship. At last, I've won one." But this tournament was only the beginning of a successful period when Jones would win a total of thirteen major championships over the next seven years. By 1926 he became the first person to win both the U.S. and British Opens in the same year. On returning home he was treated to a ticker-tape parade down Broadway in New York City, the first of several he would receive. He won the U.S. Amateur in 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, and 1930. He again won the U.S. Open in 1929 and 1930, disqualifying himself on a one-stroke technicality in 1925, adding to his reputation as a gentleman and sportsman. He also won the British Open in 1926, 1927, and 1930 and the British Amateur in 1930.

Winning all four major championships in 1930 gave him the golfing Grand Slam, an accomplishment that Jones was the first to achieve. Jones also became the first man in history to break par in the U.S. Open, winning with a score of 287, one under par.

Jones and his two major rivals during the 1920s, Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen, were known as the Three Musketeers because they took all the major titles in the United States and Great Britain. Jones also led his team to victory five times in the Walker Cup competition, inaugurated in 1921 as a tournament between amateur teams from the United States and Great Britain.

Even though golfing great Jack Nicklaus eventually broke Jones's record of thirteen major championships, no one has accomplished what Jones did within such a short period of time. In 1950 an Associated Press poll found Jones's Grand Slam to be "the Supreme Athletic Achievement of the Century."

Personal Style

Jones was an average-size man, standing 5'8" tall and weighing about 165 pounds at the height of his golfing career. He had a clean-cut, boyish manner that made him the favorite of golfing fans. He did not like to practice golf and played on average about eighty rounds a year.

Obviously gifted, Jones had superb timing and a long, powerful stroke. He wasted no time on the golf course and averaged about three seconds to address and strike the ball. He played with a set of clubs that were mismatched but chosen for their perfect feel. Jones named his favorite putter Calamity Jane.

Although his record-breaking scores indicated he could be a successful pro golfer, he remained an amateur, probably believing that his nervous temperament made him ill-suited to turning professional. In his youth, Jones had a fiery temper and was known to throw golf clubs when he was dissatisfied with a shot. It is said that he became extremely stressed before and during a competition, sometimes to the point of vomiting, and lost as much as eighteen pounds during a tournament.

Once Jones learned to control his temper, he always appeared calm and focused on the golf course. Considerate of opponents and spectators, he earned a reputation for being the consummate gentleman. He was also a very private person and extremely modest.

Contribution to the Game

During the years that Bobby Jones played amateur golf, the sport experienced a phenomenal increase in popularity. The number of weekend golfers doubled, and new golf courses were constructed throughout the United States. The middle class began to enjoy golf as spectators, a position once reserved for the wealthy.

After giving up his amateur status and retiring from competitive golf in 1930, at age twenty-eight, Jones was in a position to earn money from his golfing career. He made a series of instructional films in which he taught actors how to play golf. He also designed the first matched set of iron golf clubs for Spalding and Company, in 1932. Jones had already published his first book on the subject, Down the Fairway in 1927. From 1939 to 1969 he published four more books on playing golf.

Augusta National Golf Club and Final Years

In 1931 Jones formed a partnership with Wall Street broker Clifford Roberts and announced plans to build the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. With the help of architect Alister Mackenzie, Jones fulfilled his dream of designing a golf course. It opened in 1933, and Roberts suggested that Augusta host its own major tournament. He wanted to call it the Masters Tournament, but Jones thought the name too lofty. Instead, he called it the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. As the Augusta Invitation grew in reputation, by 1938 Jones agreed that it should be called the Masters. Jones played in the tournament until 1949, when his health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer play. However, he continued to preside over the tournament, finally attending with the help of crutches and braces and enduring intense pain.

After two back surgeries, it was discovered in 1956 that Jones suffered from the rare central nervous system disease syringomyelia. His condition worsened year by year until he was confined to a wheelchair and could not even turn the pages of a book. In 1958, Jones received his greatest honor when the people of St. Andrew's, Scotland, awarded him the Freedom of the City and the Royal Burgh of St. Andrew's awards in what has been called the most moving ceremony in the history of golf. Jones died of an aneurysm on December 18, 1971, at age 69. At his request, a small, private funeral was held.

Jones's Legacy

Golf historians and experts agree that Jones's sportsmanship is his greatest legacy. Winning the Masters Tournament has also become the most prestigious award in golf, and Jones's books and films have been reprinted and are still used as guides to playing the game. Although he rejected the idea of any monument being made to himconsidering the Augusta Golf Club his memoriala statue of Jones created after his death graced the lobby of a major hotel in Augusta until 2002, when it was moved to the Augusta Golf and Gardens as part of a centennial celebration of his birth. The statue is now the first to greet visitors to the gardens and joins sculptures of Arnold Palmer , Jack Nicklaus, Byron Nelson, Raymond Floyd, and Ben Hogan .


(With O. B. Keeler) Down the Fairway: The Golf Life and Play of Robert T. Jones, Jr., Minton, Balch & Company, 1927.


1902 Born March 17 in Atlanta, Georgia
1907 Begins playing golf
1911 Wins junior championship cup of Atlanta Athletic Club
1915 Wins East Lake Country Club and Druid Hills Country Club championships
1916 Wins Georgia State Amateur Championship; competes in U.S. Amateur at Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as event's youngest competitor
1917 Wins Southern Amateur
1919 Is runner-up in both Canadian Open and U.S. Amateur
1921 Disqualifies himself during third round of British Open
1922 Receives degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology
1923 Wins U.S. Open Championship
1924 Receives degree in English literature from Harvard University; marries Mary Rice Malone on June 17they will have three children
1926 Wins U.S. and British Open Championships, first player to do so in same year
1927 Publishes first book, Down the Fairway ; receives degree from Emory University Law School
1928 Is admitted to the Georgia bar and begins working in his father's law practice in Atlanta. Jones will continue to practice law after retirement from golf and will head the firm until his death.
1930 Wins Grand Slam: U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open, and British Amateur Championships; retires from competitive golf on November 18 and surrenders amateur status
1930-34 Makes a series of motion picture films demonstrating his golfing techniques
1931 With broker Clifford Roberts and golf architect Alister Mackenzie, purchases Fruitland Nurseries property in Augusta, Georgia, and begins design and construction of Augusta National Golf Club
1932 Designs first matched set of golf clubs for A. G. Spalding and Company
1933 Augusta National Golf Club opens
1934 First Augusta National Invitation Tournament is held; Jones plays four rounds
1938 Name of Augusta tournament is changed to Masters Tournament
1948 Plays in last Masters Tournament and plays final round of golf in Atlanta; has back surgery and begins to suffer pain and atrophy on his right side
1956 Ailment is diagnosed as syringomyelia
1958 Receives Freedom of the City and Royal Burgh of St. Andrews, Scotland
1968 Attends final Masters Tournament
1971 Dies December 17 in Atlanta; is buried in Oakland Cemetery
1972 Inducted into Southern Golf Hall of Fame; 10th hole at St. Andrews Old Course named in his honor
1974 Inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame
1989 Inducted into Georgia Hall of Fame
2002 Atlanta History Center hosts tribute to Jones on March 17, the 100th anniversary of his birth.sidebar text

(With Harold E. Lowe) Group Instruction in Golf: A Handbook for Schools and Colleges, American Sports Pub. Co., 1939.

Golf Is My Game, Doubleday, 1960.

Bobby Jones on Golf, Doubleday, 1966. Reprint, Golf Digest/Tennis, Inc., 1986. Rev. ed., edited by Sidney L. Matthew, Sleeping Bear Press, 1997.

Awards and Accomplishments

Winning all four major championships-the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open, and British Amateur-was known as the Grand Slam. Today the Grand Slam consists of the Masters Tournament, the Professional Golfer's Associ-ation (PGA) Tournament, the U.S. Open Championship, and the British Open Championship.
St. Andrews, Scotland, is home of the Old Course, said to be the founding place of golf.
1911 East Lake (Georgia) Junior Championship, at age 9
1916 Georgia State Amateur Championship; qualified in National Amateur Championship
1917 Southern Amateur Championship
1919 Runner-up, Southern Open Championship; runner-up, Canadian Open Championship; runner-up, National Amateur Championship
1920 Southern Amateur Championship; tied for eighth place in National Open; National Amateur Championship, medalist
1922 Southern Amateur Championship; tied for second place in National Open Championship
1923 Won National Open Championship after play-off; National Amateur Championship, medalist after play-off
1924 National Amateur Championship; National Open Championship, second place
1925 National Amateur Championship; National Open Championship, second place after play-off
1926 British Open Championship; U.S. Open Championship; U.S. Amateur Championship, medalist and runner-up
1927 British Open, won with new record score of 285; U.S. Amateur Championship, medalist and winner
1928 National Amateur Championship; U.S. Open Championship, second place after play-off
1929 Won National Open Championship in play-off; National Amateur Championship, co-medalist with Gene Homans
1930 Savannah Open Tournament, second place; won Southeastern Open; Golf Illustrated Gold Vase Tournament; British Amateur Championship; British Open Championship; U.S. Amateur Championship; U.S. Open Championship
1950 Associated Press poll judged Jones's Grand Slam "the Supreme Athletic Achievement of the Century"
1955 U.S. Golf Association's highest honor named the Bob Jones Award
1958 Received Freedom of the City and Royal Burgh of St. Andrews at St. Andrews, Scotland
1966 Named president in perpetuity of the Augusta National Golf Club
1972 Inducted into the Southern Golf Hall of Fame; 10th hole at Old Course, St. Andrews, Scotland, named in his honor.
1974 Inducted into World Golf Hall of Fame
1989 Inducted into Georgia Hall of Fame, Augusta

Bobby Jones on the Basic Golf Swing, Doubleday, 1969.



Jebsen, Harry. "Robert Tyre Jones, Jr." Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement 9: 1971-1975. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1994.

Rice, Grantland, from the writings of O. B. Keeler. The Bobby Jones Story. Atlanta: Tupper & Love, 1953.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. "Bobby Jones." five volumes. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000.


"Golfer of the Golden Era." Newsweek (December 27, 1971): 48.


American Decades CD-ROM. "Robert 'Bobby' Tyre Jones, Jr." Detroit: Gale Group, 1998.

Augusta Chronicle. "The Life of Bobby Jones." CNN/Sports Illustrated. (October 21, 2002).

Boyette, John. Augusta Chronicle. "Golf's Gentleman." CNN/Sports Illustrated. (October 21, 2002).

Boyette, John. Augusta Chronicle. "Golf World Pays Tribute to Legend." CNN/Sports Illustrated. (October 21, 2002).

DISCovering Biography. "Bobby Jones." Detroit: Gale Group, 1997.

DISCovering U.S. History. "Golf in the 1920s." Detroit: Gale Group, 1997.

Golf Europe. "The Walker Cup." (October 22, 2002).

Internet Movie Database. "Bobby Jones." (October 24, 2002).

Smith, Jason. Augusta Chronicle. "Jones Statue Joins Golf Gardens." CNN/Sports Illustrated. (October 21, 2002).

Sketch by Ann H. Shurgin

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Jones, Bobby 1939(?)–

Bobby Jones 1939(?)

Gospel vocalist, television host

At a Glance


What Dick Clark is to rock n roll and Don Cornelius is to soul, Bobby Jones is to gospel music, declared Washington Post writer Mike Joyce in 1995. Since 1980, Jones has hosted the Bobby Jones Gospel Hour, which airs weekly on the Black Entertainment Television (BET) cable network. Like its counterparts in pop and soul, the Hour offers gospel fans live performances by well-known names in the industry along with interview clips and album reviews. Though little-known outside of gospel music circles, Jones remains a powerful force in the industry.

Jones, born in Paris, Tennessee, was a schoolteacher in Nashville for a time after earning his masters degree from Tennessee State University. He left his teaching job to become a textbook consultant specializing in elementary education, then began teaching reading skills at Tennessee State University in the early 1970s. Around this same time, he also began a second career as a singer on the gospel circuit, and continued his activism in the local civil-rights movement and his church. Seeing an opportunity to merge the drive for African American economic independence with an already-established sense of community among Nashvilles black churches, in 1976 he helped create the citys first Black Expo. Inspired in part by Jesse Jacksons Operation PUSH in Chicago, Black Expo featured numerous serious workshops, but had also attracted some of its 50,000 attendees with a host of concerts. A young Natalie Cole was one of Joness hired performers in Black Expos early years.

Black Expo also attracted the attention of local media executives, and as Jones explained in the interview with Joyce for the Washington Post, at that time affirmative action was in place and Channel 4 in Nashville didnt have its complete number of black programmers in place, he recalled. So we asked if we could do a pilot for a gospel showand its been running ever since. The Nashville Gospel Show was a hit in the area, but Jones jumped ship in 1980 when he was invited by Robert Johnson, founder of the fledgling Black Entertainment Television (BET) network, to bring an hour of gospel television to the new cable network. The Bobby Jones Gospel Hour was one of the first shows on BET, which during its first few lean years on the air could only afford to offer a few hours of programming a week.

The Hour came to be known as a showcase for gospel-music giants who enjoyed little national exposure otherwise. Since the BET studios were in Washington, for several years Jones flew back and forth from Nashville to tape the show. He also continued his career as a recording artist, cutting gospel records with the New Life Choir such as Ill Never Forget. In 1984, he won his first Grammy Award for a duet with country music singer Barbara Mandrell, Im So Glad Im Standing Here Today. The two had met when both were cutting tracks at the same Nashville recording studio, and became friends. Mandrell appeared on Jones show, and the

At a Glance

Born c. 1939, in Paris, TN. Education: Received masters degree from Tennessee State University; earned Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University.

Career: Taught in Nashville, TN; textbook consultant for an educational publishing house; Tennessee State University, Nashville, instructor in reading and study skills, from 1972 until mid-1980s; launched second career as a gospel singer, c. 1972; formed gospel group, New Life, in Nashville, TN, c. 1975; has recorded over ten albums; host and producer, The Bobby Jones Gospel Hour, 1980.

Awards: Grammy Award, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, 1984, for Im So Glad Im Standing Here Today also the recipient of Dove Awards.

Addresses: Office Millennium Entertainment, 1314 5th, Nashville, TN 37208.

unlikely duo even toured together until her 1985 automobile accident. Since then, other country music stars have also appeared on the Gospel Hour, such as Marty Robbins and Ricky Skaggs; even pop artists such as Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. have been guests, but everybody sings gospel. Were trying to bridge ideologies to the focal pointthe works of Jesus, Jones told Joe Edwards for the Chicago Tribune, [O]ur goal is to bring ones attention to the wonderful design of the Bible.

Jones later expanded his presence on BET with the half-hour show, Video Gospel, which he also hosts. The Bobby Jones Gospel Hour is broadcast on the American Christian Network and the Armed Forces radio and television stations, giving Jones an audience of gospel fans around the world in countries that include Nigeria and Holland. Jones himself has also performed internationally, including stops in Israel and Africa, and sang at the White House for President Jimmy Carter; he was also invited to appear before Ronald Reagan in a performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Jones kept his teaching job at Tennessee State as late as the mid-1980s, and by then had also earned a doctorate in curriculum leadership from Vanderbilt University. He has a record label, GospoCentric, and in addition to his television responsibilities has brought an increased awareness for the music form since 1989 with his live tours known as the Bobby Jones Gospel Explosions. His three-day event in 1998 at Walt Disney Worlds Epcot Centerpart of its Black History month celebrationsfeatured such gospel all-stars as CeCe Winans, John P. Kee, and Albertina Walker. His Mini-Explosions bring gospel music to audiences in smaller cities across the United States as well as in Europe and the Caribbean.

When asked by James D. Davis of the Sun-Sentinel, How did gospel music become more popular?, Jones replied, My show. Its catapulted gospel into a whole new era. Before, you had only radio and concerts. TV has opened gospel up to a lot of people. Based on his fan club roster, Jones once estimated that a good portion of his viewing audience was white, proving a wider audience for the music existed far beyond most preconceptions. I want to be one of the people to bring gospel music to the real marketplace by educating people about its marvelous and unique features, he told Edwards in the Chicago Tribune. It should be placed where any good music is, he added. Jones is also committed to holding the door open for a new generation of singers, and his Explosions tours often feature well-known local acts, such as Washington, D.C.s William Becton and Friends. Record-industry personnel attend the shows, but Jones is also careful to mix the vintage and the up-and-coming. It is important for young people to know who paved the way for us, he told HamilR. Harris in the Washington Post You cant go into the future without knowing the past, he continued.

For the Doubleday publishing house, Jones is working on a book that compiles testimonials from well-known gospel personalities. In his off-hours, he likes Las Vegas, though he does not gamble, but instead loves its musical offerings. In the Sun-Sentinel interview, Davis also asked him what he hoped his ultimate legacy would be. I would like to be known for completing what the Lord gave me to do, bringing people together, spreading love, like serving water, Jones replied. Without that, I am nothing, he concluded.



Billboard, March 29, 1997, p. 17.

Chicago Tribune, November 7, 1985, p. 13D.

Nations Business, February 1995, p. 13.

Washington Post, July 7, 1995, p. N13; July 17, 1995, p. D1.


Sun-Sentinel interview at

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Jones, Bobby

Bobby Jones: see Jones, Robert Tyre, Jr.

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"Jones, Bobby." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 12 Dec. 2017 <>.

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