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The Bobby Jones WayHow to Apply the Swing Secrets of Golf's All-Time Power-Control Player to Your Own Game
By Andrisani, John
Getting a Good Education
In 1930, Robert Tyre Jones Jr., a twenty-eight-year-old golfer nicknamed Bobby, won the British Amateur, British Open, United States Open, and United States Amateur golf championships. This sweep of all four majors, the Impregnable Quadrilateral, was a tremendous feat. In fact, I believe it remains to this day what esteemed golf writer Herbert Warren Wind, formerly of The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated magazines, called it, "the greatest single achievement by an athlete in sports history." Jones had "done it all," said ABC-television golf commentator Peter Alliss. This accomplishment was Jones's reward for all the hard work he had put into the game over the years, starting at age six when he spent hundreds of hours hitting shots at Atlanta's East Lake Country Club. There, Jones spent many solitary days perfecting swing and shot-making techniques he learned from Stewart Maiden, the Scottish-born golf professional Bobby often followed around the East Lake course.
In 1907, when Jones was five years old, his family moved to a house about one hundred yards from East Lake's second fairway. Initially, Jones caught the golf bug after swinging a cut-down cleek (4-wood) given to him by Fulton Colville, one of the club's members. To satisfy his appetite for golf, practically every day Jones and neighbor Frank Meador Jr. played a two-hole course they had designed in front of Meador's parents' home.
In 1908, the Jones family moved to a second golf-course house where Bobby could again see from his window players hitting golf shots. By midyear Bobby had added a brassie (2-wood), cut down from one of his mother's clubs, and a mashie (5-iron), abandoned by his father, to his bag.
During the summer months Jones played almost every day with his mother and father. In the evenings, after supper, he had more fun hitting short pitch shots to the thirteenth green, situated practically in his backyard. Practice paid off; Jones won the first competition he ever entered, a six-hole tournament at East Lake arranged by Mr. Frank Meador. The players Jones beat were Frank Meador Jr., Perry Adair, another golf prodigy, and Alexa Stirling, a neighborhood girl who went on to win many prestigious golf tournaments, including three national women's championships. Jones, at the youthful age of six, won his second tournament at East Lake, too, beating Adair in the final.
Luckily for Jones, he lived on the lip of East Lake and could watch Maiden play. Maiden, whom Jones used as a model and mentor, gave Jones his first full set of hickory clubs so that he could quickly develop a more well-rounded shot-making game, shoot lower scores, and win more tournaments. This was quite a relationship. Jones idolized Maiden because of his pro status and the virtually effortless, technically sound swing he employed. Maiden could see that Jones showed promise so he took control by giving him every advantage. His gift of a new set of clubs, perfectly suited to young Bobby's physique and physical strengths, was surely a step in the right direction.
In 1911, at age nine, Jones won his first big cup, the AAC Junior Championship, beating sixteen-year-old Howard Thorne by a 5-and-4 margin. The photograph in American Golfer Magazine, showing victorious little Bobby next to the tall runner-up, turned out to be a harbinger of things to come. Throughout his illustrious competitive career, albeit a short one, Jones was known as the most feared on-course killer.
Jones's enthusiasm for golf grew at a rapid speed and reached great heights in 1913. That summer he watched English professional golfers Harry Vardon and Ted Ray play matches against Maiden and his pro partner Willie Mann at the East Lake and Brookhaven golf courses. And, no doubt, learned some secrets to hitting new shots.
Ironically, though Jones admired this foursome of golfers, adults were admiring his own unique shot-making skills. Jones's distance off the tee surprised most, particularly because he was of small stature. His ability to swing the club powerfully was aided by the strong hands he had inherited from his father, who would have become a professional baseball player had his own dad not put a stop to it. The other reason for Jones's power was that his swing was a virtual clone of Maiden's. Jones learned to beautifully coordinate the movement of the body with the movement of the club in a wonderfully poetic manner. Moreover, his swing produced shots that hit the most narrow fairways and smallest greens, which is why by age nine he began shooting scores in the 70s. Even more impressively, in 1916, at age fourteen, Jones became the Georgia State amateur champion. The following year, at age fifteen, he won the Southern Amateur.
As good as these accomplishments were, the best was yet to come. Jones's "fat" years, according to traveling companion and biographer Oscar Bane Keeler, began in 1923 when he won the U.S. Open in a play-off against Bobby Cruickshank. Jones's brilliant long-iron hit off a bare lie over water to the heart of the green at the last hole is part of golfing legend.
Jones won the 1924 U.S. Amateur and the same title in 1925 thanks largely to learning the secrets to driving accuracy, on-target shot-making, and a solid short game by watching Maiden play. Although Jones never took formal, hour-long lessons from Maiden, as Tiger Woods did from California-based teaching professional John Anselmo from the age of ten until eighteen, Jones did receive help from him when his swing was really out of sync. The classic example: On the day before the 1925 U.S. Open was to begin, at the Worcester Country Club in Worcester, Massachusetts, Jones was hitting wild shots...Continues...
Excerpted from The Bobby Jones Way by Andrisani, John Excerpted by permission.
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