Bobby Jones Speaks

“It is nothing new or original to say that golf is played one stroke at a time. But it took me many years to realize it. And it is easy to forget, now. And it won’t do to forget, in tournament golf.” –- 1930 Grand Slam Winner Bobby Jones


I love reading and writing about golf, but given the fact I am a mild-hitting 13 handicapper, I am in no position to address the finer points of the game. Yes, I feel totally capable of dealing with the emotional and humorous sides of the game, but I am certainly not capable of writing about “The Five Keys To More Distance With Your Driver.” A more likely title for me would be “How I’d Like To Play Golf.”

However, just because my yearly number of double bogeys far exceeds my number of birdies, doesn’t mean that I am accepting of my just-off-the-green-in-regulation life. Even at the age of 67, I still believe that I can lower my handicap and become a more dependable partner. I am not talking about a big dip, say my current 13 to a 9, but 11 seems doable. Even my dark side says that with a reasonable commitment to practice and lessons, I should be able to stay a 13.

Of course, the winter months here in KC make it difficult to get out on a regular basis to play and practice, so right now I am looking for inspiration and some solid swing advice. After looking at several of the All-Time Best Golfers lists, I was drawn to the only golfer to win the Grand Slam, Bobby Jones (1902 – 1971). During his era, the four Majors were the U.S. Open, The (British) Open Championship, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur. All told, Jones, who never gave up his amateur status, played in 31 Majors from 1923 to 1930, winning 13 times and finishing in the Top 10 27 times. His BIG YEAR was 1930 when he won all four Majors. He retired that same year from competitive golf despite being just 28.

There will always be arguments about who is golf’s GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). The debate these days is largely between Jack Nicklaus with his 18 victories and 19 second-place finishes in the Majors and Tiger Woods’ 14 wins. However, 3-time Major winner Tommy Armour’s (1896 – 1968) quote still seems to perfectly describe Jones’s place in history: “It is nonsense to talk about who was the greatest golfer in the world. All you can say is that there have been none greater than Bobby Jones.”

I now give you over to Mr. Jones, who founded Augusta National GC in 1993. A year later, the first Masters was played.

In my conception of the stroke, it is always the left arm that should be the guiding member. In the case of nearly all good players, it is the arm that starts and controls the direction of the stroke until it comes to the hit.”

So swing, swing, swing, if you want to play better golf; fight down any tautness wherever it may make its appearance; strive for relaxed muscles throughout, and encourage a feeling of laziness in the backswing and the start downward. Go back far enough, trust your swing, and then – swing the clubhead through.”

PROPER POSTURE – The man who reaches out for the ball gets into trouble because he cannot extend his arms and remain relaxed.”

I should say that the most important movement of the swing would be to start the downswing by beginning the unwinding of the hips. … There can be no power, and very little accuracy or reliability, in a swing in which the left hip does not lead the downstroke.”

Like pool, golf is primarily a game of position. The professional pool player never takes one shot at a time. He organizes a series of shots in his mind to sink all the balls on the table. The key is to get a good ‘leave,’ or an ideal position for the next shot.”

I get as much fun as the next man from whaling the ball as hard as I can and catching it squarely on the button. But from sad experience, I learned not to try this in a round that meant anything.”

For the average golfer, it will probably be helpful, in putting and in playing short approaches, to follow the suggestion of Walter Travis (1862 – 1927; U.S. Amateur champion in 1900, 1901, 1903 and 1904 British Amateur winner) and to pick out a spot on the back of the ball into which to drive the imaginary tack.”

And Finally: “For no matter how good we may be, if we should fancy that we have mastered golf to the extent that we can go out day after day and play as we please, then we are greater fools than ought to be left at large.”


(Photo: Walter Travis)



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