Bobby Jones and the Grand Slam
LiveAuctionTalk.com: by Rosemary McKittrick
Photo courtesy of PBA Galleries.
When Bobby Jones played golf in the 1930 British Amateur championship the entire city of St. Andrews in Scotland seemed to show up at the golf course.
On the day of the Bobby Jones-Cyril Tolley match the town was so empty that novelist Gerald Fairlie used the scene in one of his mysteries to allow the villain to commit murder in downtown and get away with it.
Bobby Jones was in great form and playing too well to be stopped. Even though he was a fatalist about golf tournaments, Bobby confided in friends he was feeling much more confident than he had been in 1929. He was hitting every shot in the bag and felt like he just couldn’t lose.
Bobby found himself sinking even those little pitches between 50 and 125 yards which had given him trouble in the past.
He was so confident in early-1930 the amateur bet on himself with British bookmakers before the first tournament of the Grand Slam (four major golf championships) at odds of 50–1. He collected over $60,000 when he won.
In several of his matches a single bad shot would have changed the course of history for the golfer. But it didn’t happen. Bobby played his bad shots when it mattered least and his best shots when it mattered most.
His triumph was described by many spectators as “mystically inevitable.”
Jones was one down to George Voigt with only three holes to play at St. Andrews when Sir James Lieshman, a fan, said, “His (Jones) luck is as fixed as the orbit of a planet. He cannot be beaten here.”
Bobby seemed to possess something he never had before and the crowd sensed it. The very next tee Voigt drove into a bunker and lost the hole.
The British Amateur was the one major championship that eluded Bobby Jones. He wanted it badly and won it.
It was like he was touched by the gods.
His timing couldn’t have been better. It was the beginning of the Great Depression and people were down. Everyone knew winning the Grand Slam wasn’t possible. And Bobby won it.
He made people believe in possibilities.
He is still the only golfer to have won the Grand Slam, all four major golf championships in the same year. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.
"No man ever had golf so much under his thumb that he could be certain of hitting every shot perfectly,” Bobby said. “Even the best players make their share of mistakes. The only thing we can strive for is an understanding of the fundamentals of the swing, which will enable us to correct our faults when they make their appearance. You can't expect to play better unless you learn the fundamentals of the swing."
On Aug. 25, PBA Galleries, San Francisco, featured a selection of Bobby Jones items in its Fine Golf Books from the Library of Duncan Campbell sale.
Here are some current values.
Book: “A Short Love Story: The People of St. Andrews Scotland and Robert T. Jones Jr.,” by Jones; first edition; circa 1973; $240.
Loving Cup Trophy; presented to T.W. Pemberton by Warner Brothers; features statue of Jones swinging club; 21 ½ inches tall approximate; circa 1930; $1,320.
Book; “Down the Fairway, The Golf Life and Play of Robert T. Jones Jr.,” by Jones illustrated with photos; no. 18 of 100 copies; 75th Anniversary edition; $1,680.
Color Print of Grand Slam; Jones putting on the 18th green; Old Course, St. Andrews; signed by Jones; circa 1930s; 23 ¼ inches by 26 ¼ inches; $2,280.
Presentation Album; “The Masters Tournament,” by Robert T. Jones Jr., and Clifford Roberts; first edition; presentation edition; 1952; 9¾ inches by 14¼ inches; $4,200.