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FULLNAME: Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones Jr.
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At the turn of the century, the Majors were considered to be the British and US Opens and Amateur Championships. Jones played his first major tournament, the US Amateur, when he was 14 and finished in the top 10. However, it as not until 1923 that he won his first Major, the US Open. By the time he retired from competitive golf in 1930, Jones won the Open 3 times, the British Amateur once, the US Open 4 times and the US Amateur 4 times. He is the only golfer to have won all the Majors in a single year, 1930. In all he won 13 national championships in 8 years. In addition he played in every Walker Cup since it's inauguration in 1922 until retirement.
His talent was all the more unusual because he was not physically strong and had a nervous disposition. He chained smoked on the course, shied away from the gallery and sometimes couldn't eat during competition time.
Most people would imagine that such achievements would have necessitated a full time commitment to practise. However, Jones only devoted 3 months of every year to golf. The remaining time was spent acquiring first class honours degrees in Law, English Literature and Mechanical Engineering - all from different universities. When he retired he set up his own law practice in Atlanta.
Jones continued his involvement in golf after retiring. He made instructional films and contributed articles to golf magazines. He designed Augusta National and created the US Masters Championship in collaboration. However Jones cites playing the old course St Andrews as his most rewarding golfing experience. In recognition of his contribution to golf and the Open Championship, the R&A awarded him honorary membership in 1956. He was later made a freeman of St Andrews.
Unfortunately in 1958, Jones became wheelchair bound due a spinal disease. When he died, a memorial service was held in his honour at St Andrews. His portrait hangs proudly in the R&A clubhouse. The USGA Museum has a room dedicated to his memory.
Jones won everything in golf and then he won it again. His career was short yet hugely successful. No one has achieved so much in such a short career. On that basis, he can be considered the greatest golfer ever. In addition, he competed only as an amateur and therefore demonstrated an unadulterated love for the game. Even today he sets the standard by which the greats are judged.
And then, at age 28, Jones retired from competitive golf. In 1931, Jones started working on the first golf instructional videos, movie shorts entitled "How I Play Golf" (compare prices) that played in theaters. He helped design the first-ever set of matched clubs. He practiced law. He founded Augusta National and the Masters.
In 1948 Jones was diagnosed with a rare disease of the central nervous system and never played golf again. He spent most of his later years in a wheelchair, but continued to host the Masters. He died in 1971 at the age of 69.
Bobby Jones was among the first class of inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
Awards and Honors
• Writer Herbert Warren Wind: "In the opinion of many people, of all the great athletes, Jones came the closest to being what we call a great man."
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