Here’s what happened.
His career was practicing law. After graduating from Georgia Tech and Harvard, he passed the Georgia bar exam after only a year of study at Emory Law School. But the endeavor for which he is best known prompted him to become involved with an historic project. When it opened on March 22, 1934, it became a monument to his greatness.
That project was the Augusta National Invitational Golf Tournament; its co-founder was Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones, Jr. Today it is known as The Masters. As one of golf’s major events, it contributes hugely to the billion-dollar impact golf makes on Georgia.
Here’s why it mattered then.
Bobby Jones dominated golf from 1923-1930. He won championships at the four major tournaments of his era: the U.S. Open (four), British Open (three), U.S. Amateur (five) and British Amateur (one). In 1930 he won them all, an accomplishment so amazing that it was termed a “Grand Slam.”
Jones retired from competitive play in 1931, when he was only 28 years old. He had been a true amateur, but he profited from his golf fame for the rest of his life. After retiring he wanted to play at a course that would continue to challenge him. So he and a co-investor named Clifford Roberts selected land near Augusta that had been an indigo plantation. The course that Alister MacKenzie designed was so popular that it spawned the tournament and an organization to host it, Augusta National Golf Club.
Here’s why it matters now.
Jones often insisted on calling his own penalty strokes. That habit inspired the United States Golfers Association (USGA) to name its award for sportsmanship in his honor.
The modern Grand Slam now includes The Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship. Five men have achieved a Career Grand Slam: Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen, and Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods. But Jones remains the only man to have achieved it in the same calendar year.
Here’s the latest update . . .
Membership in Augusta National Golf Club is strictly by invitation. Its first black member was not accepted until 1990. In 2003 the National Council of Women’s Organizations waged a very public battle against the club over its continual exclusion of women. Ironically, the chair of each group– William Johnson and Martha Burke–shared the nickname “Hootie.”
Each year four Emory students receive the Robert T. Jones Jr. Scholarship, for a year of study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The St. Andrews golf course, believed to be the world’s oldest, is where Jones won the British Open in 1927 and the Amateur Open in 1930.
. . . And here’s an interesting fact!
The Augusta National course is famous for its landmarks. Each hole is named after the tree or shrub with which it is associated. Several other locations (a tree, pond, and cabin) are named for U.S. President Dwight David Eisenhower, who was an avid golfer and a club member.