Posted by: furmanbisher | July 29, 2010

Bobby Jones & the 80th Anniversary of the Grand Slam

This is an anniversary that we should not let pass by without due attention, commemorating a sporting feat that has never been accomplished since, and may never happen again. First, take into consideration that Bobby Jones was just 28 years old when he did this. Twenty-eight, mind you. No man, from Nicklaus down to Woods came close to accomplishing what Bobby Jones did that year. Jones took them all on, amateurs and professionals, then left his message behind: This is what he came here to do, he had done it, time to move on.

In order, this was his Grand Slam triumph in 1930:

BRITISH AMATEUR: (At St. Andrews)

—“This was the most important tournament of my life,” he wrote, played on a course for which he had a serious dislike, but overcame it. “It included more interesting and dramatic matches than any tournament of my experience.”

On the way, he had to eliminate the defending champion, Cyril Tolley, and in the championship match, Roger Wethered, of England’s most distinguished golfing family. After which Jones said, “If I had to select one course upon which to play the match of my life, I should choose the Old Course.”

He had made his peace with St. Andrews.

BRITISH OPEN: (Hoylake)

—After a week’s holiday in Paris, he came upon the kind of galleries he had never known at Royal Liverpool. He qualified with a modest round of 77, then rode the crest of an untethered fandom to triumph, requiring a full force of police guardians. After it was all done, it was Cyril Tolley himself who said to him, “Do you suppose you have ever played so badly for so long and  yet won both our championships?”

Jones was astonished, but agreed that Tolley had made a valid point, being the gentleman that he was.

U.S. OPEN: (Interlochen Golf Club, Minneapolis) —On to New York and a parade down Broadway, then the train to Minnesota, and sweltering summer weather. Four days of practice, a day of fishing, then the Open. Trousers were soaked with sweat the first day, and his red tie was so soaked it had to be cut off with a knife (by O.B. Keeler).

“This was one time I played my very best in a championship,” he would say later. After the third round he held a 5-stroke lead, achieved with a 68. Then he doubled-bogeyed three par-3 holes on the fourth round, but sank a 40-foot putt on the final hole to sew it up. Three down and one to go.

U.S.AMATEUR: (Merion Cricket Club, Merion Pa.) —This was a foregone conclusion. He set aside probably his most serious rival in the first round, Ross Somerville of Canada, 5 and 4. He was never, ever in any sort of trouble, except from the galleries, which grew to such an extent that national guardsmen had to be called in to keep order.

It ended on the 11th green and  Eugene Homans, Jones’ final victim, was already reaching for Bobby’s hand in congratulations before his deciding putt even reached the cup.

“Never down, never in any sort of trouble,” he said later. The tension was finally over, and never would this sporting feat ever even be threatened down through the years.

Upon which, Bobby Jones then retired from competition, but not from golf, for which we are all thankful. Later, he would be the moving force that created Augusta National, and the Masters, a sanctuary of golf in its finest refuge.


Responses

  1. And speaking of The Masters, that is what we are priviledged to experience when viewing your handiwork. Keep writing Mr Bisher, we`re still listening.

  2. Wish I’d had a chance to see Mr. Jones in action. Not only one of the greatest golfers of all time, he apperaed to be a role model–and one truly worthy of the designation.

  3. I do wonder whether match play made his feat more difficult, or more manageable?

    Either way, thanks for the history lesson, Mr. Bisher.


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