A couple of things to know about Bobby Jones and the Masters

A column by Ivan Morris

Bobby Jones has never revealed exactly why he retired from competition at the age of 28 after winning in 1930 what was then known as the “Great Quadrilateral”: that is, the American and British amateur championships, the US Open and the (British )Open. Championship, all played in the same year.

I guess his wife wanted him home more so he could settle down to a real family life in addition to his legal profession tied to various business interests.

Bobby Jones had also signed on to make a series of instructional films for Warner Brothers in Hollywood and had begun designing golf clubs for the Spalding Company—don’t forget, he also had a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech. At the same time, he was about to starting to write a lucrative golf column and several books as well. Activities that cast doubt on his amateur status: note that he never declared himself a professional but never competed as an amateur again.

In 1932, Jones began work on his life’s pet project: the construction of the Augusta National Golf Club, which opened in late 1934 and led to the first staging of a tournament he (modestly) called The Invitational. It was not until 1939 that Jones’ partner, clifford-robertshe managed, against Jones’s wishes, to change the name to The Masters Tournament.

Although completely retired from professional tournaments, Jones played twelve Masters between 1934 and 1948 (no tournaments were held in the years 1943-1945 due to World War II). It was the only tournament (apart from occasional exhibition matches) in which he participated.
Taking into account the lack of practice, it can be said that he played very well, finishing 13th in the 1934 Masters. He played another 11 times but never managed to finish better. Here are Jones’ year-by-year scores and scores at the Masters:

1934: 76-74-72-72—294, tied for 13th

1935: 74-72-73-78—297, tied for 25th

1936: 78-78-73-77—306, 33

1937: 79-74-73-77—303, tied for 29th

1938: 76-74-72-75—297, tied for 16th

1939: 76-77-78-73—304, tied for 33rd

1940: 79-76-155, deleted.

1941: 76-74-78-79—307, 40

1942: 72-75-79-78—304, tied for 29th

1946: 75-72-77-78—302, tied for 32nd

1947: 75-79-78-80—312, 56

1948: 76-81-79-79—315, 39

Another little known fact is thatalister mackenzie it was not Jones’s first choice as a course designer. Even Mackenzie didn’t know. Sir Guy Campbell was the favourite. Although he was born in London, Campbell had attended the University of St. Andrews and spent much of his life there, where he was a prominent member of the R&A, winning several of the club’s prestigious medal tournaments. A regular competitor in the Amateur Championship, as well as being an excellent cricketer and rower, Campbell was the great-grandson of Robert Chambers, golf historian and co-designer of the first 9 holes at Hoylake.

Campbell joined the staff of The London Times in 1920 as a special correspondent and later became one of its editors. At the same time, he embarked on golf course design in partnership with Cecil Hutchinson and S. V. Hotchkin. His course layouts (and renovations) include some beauties: Ashridge Park, Leeds Castle, Southdown, Prince’s, Royal Cinque Ports, Rye, Felixstowe, Seacroft, Shoreham, West Sussex (all in England), The Haagsche (Netherlands), North Berwick (West Links) and East Lothian (Scotland), Killarney and Royal Dublin (Ireland).

Bobby Jones and Sir Guy Campbell had a number of mutual friends and acquaintances on both sides of the Atlantic, including: J. Victor Eastthe club maker of choice for both men and women bernard darwin. Campbell’s local knowledge and architectural philosophy of the fields made a good impression. It is likely that the Jones’s Dream project was discussed even before the Berckman’s Fruitland Nursery property was identified.

Pensacola trial attorney and Jones family archivist, sydney matthewpublished an article in the September 2021 issue of Go ahead (The official publication of the British Golf Collector’s Society, edited by the St. Andrews-based Irishman, Roger McStravick) in which he states that he is in possession of correspondence that can prove that Campbell was offered the position, subject to traveling to the United States to inspect the ground and finalize the terms. Despite several enthusiastic letters back and forth, it appears that “complications” at home prevented Campbell from crossing the Atlantic in a timely manner. Campbell forever lost this opportunity to achieve golf immortality.

During the presentation of his project, Mackenzie always spoke of “purpose”, but Augusta’s drawing did not fulfill this promise. She too has undergone continual changes over the decades. The Club’s annual Media Guide shows that eleven different architects have made over 60 major hole changes since its inception! There isn’t much of a “purpose” in all of this!
It is possible that Sir Guy Campbell would have anticipated some of these changes early on if he had been chosen instead of MacKenzie – we’ll never know!

In the last twenty years alone, the length of the course has grown from 6,985 yards to 7,475 yards, tree planting has continued apace, and the roughs have cut across the course like never before.

How would anyone have imagined all this in 1932?

Ivan Morris

To find Bobby Jones, read here our article dedicated to the beautiful book published about him

book published by Templar House who has also just published a book on Walter Hagen “The King and his Crown”.

see website templar

Photos: AFP (Photo by Michael HEIMAN/Getty Images via AFP), Templar

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