Walking Through History: The Legacy of Bobby Jones
Regarded as the greatest amateur golfer ever, Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones Jr. learned the game of golf at his home course of East Lake. East Lake would prove to be the foundation on which Jones built his remarkably successful golf career.
His path, however, might have taken a different journey if he hadn’t fallen ill with whooping cough and measles as a child. His parents, determining the fresh air of the country would benefit the sickly child, moved to a boarding house near East Lake. Shortly after settling into the new summer home, Jones turned to golf.
A child prodigy, Jones styled his swing after Stewart Maiden, the club’s professional. At the age of six, he won his first tournament (though Jones, ever a gentleman, always contested it was actually won by fellow East Lake resident Alexa Stirling). He captured the Atlanta Athletic Club’s Junior Championship when he was nine by besting someone seven years older than him. He reached the third round of the U.S. Amateur Championship by 14 and won the U.S. Open at 21.
Between that initial win at the U.S. Open in 1923 through his victory in the 1930 U.S. Amateur Championship, he tallied 13 major championships in 20 tries. After becoming the only golfer to ever win the “Grand Slam”, Jones, who never turned professional, retired from competitive golf at the age of 28 to pursue a career in business.
Aside from his unmatched skills on the course, Jones was lauded for his contributions to game. He is regarded as the standard bearer for conduct on the course, a remarkable evolution of character given his temper as a youngster. He penned a series of instructional books and movies on golf, shooting many of the films at East Lake, and the level of integrity he brought to the game has provided guidance to the generations of golfers that followed him.
After passing in 1971, Jones was buried at Oakland Cemetery, just a few miles west of East Lake. Today, lovers of the game still make the pilgrimage to his grave, leaving golf balls by the tombstone to pay respect to the unrivaled contributions Jones left on the sport.