Even though it’s wasn’t, last week was Masters week, which I consider to be the “official” beginning of both Spring and the golf season.
When I see or hear the words “Masters week,” one name immediately pops into my head: Bobby Jones (1902 – 1971). Jones not only co-founded Augusta National with Clifford Roberts in 1932, he and Alister MacKenzie designed one of the world’s best courses.
Of course, Jones’s place in golf history is secure for his incredible play, not for his ability to turn a Georgia nursery of peaches, apples and grapes into a golf club. I guess you can have a debate over which golfer has had “the longest best career.” Is it Jack Nicklaus (18 Majors, 19 seconds and nine thirds) or Tiger Woods (15 Majors, six seconds and four thirds)? Just for the record, I go with Jack.
However, when it comes to who had the Hottest Hot Streak Ever, I believe Jones, who never turned pro, gets the nod. Here are the facts:
1923 – U.S. Open
1924 – British Amateur
1925 – British Amateur
1926 – British Open, U.S. Open
1927 – British Amateur, British Open
1928 – British Amateur,
1929 – U.S. Open
1930 – British Amateur, British Open, U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur
(Note: At that time the four Majors were: The British Amateur, The British Open, U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur.)
In addition to his 13 Major wins from 1923 to 1930, he finished in the Top 10 14 other times. Of course, his HOTTEST YEAR EVER was 1930 when he won The Grand Slam – all four Majors! That’s a feat that has not been duplicated. As his World Golf Hall of Fame bio says, “Beginning with his victory in the 1923 U.S. Open at Inwood and ending with his U.S. Amateur victory at Merion in 1930, Jones won 13 championships in 20 tries, the most imposing run of Major titles the game has ever seen.”
Obviously, Jones was a great player: “A match against Bobby Jones is just as though you got your hand caught in a buzz saw” said Francis Ouimet, who won the U.S. Open in 1913 and the U.S. Amateur in 1914 & 1931. “He coasts along serenely, waiting for you to miss a shot and the moment you do, he has you on the hook and you never get off. He can drive straighter than any man living. He is perfectly machinelike in his iron play and on the greens he is a demon.”
And he was a great student of the game. His book, “Down the Fairway,” is a must read and his “How I Play Golf” Instructional Series is a must watch.
Now you know why I am starting off this golf season by channeling the wisdom of Bobby Jones.
“A leading difficulty with the average player is that he totally misunderstands what is meant by concentration. He may think that he is concentrating hard when he is merely worrying.”
“Fight tautness whenever it occurs; strive for relaxed muscles throughout.”
“I believe most sincerely that the impulse to steer, born of anxiety, is accountable for almost every really bad 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.”
“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.
“Many shots are spoiled at the last instant by efforts to add a few more yards.”
”Tuck your right elbow close to the body on the downswing. This is one I have to really think about when I practice. I’m not sure why, but I have a chicken wing problem that needs constant attention. And when that wing tries to fly, Shankerella rears her ugly head.”
”On putting: The best system for me is to stroke the ball with as smooth a swing as I can manage, and try always to gauge an approach putt, or any putt except the short holing-out efforts, to reach the hole with a dying ball.”
“Since it is beyond all reasonable expectations that a person may hole a chip shot, little will be gained by playing always for the hole … There are times when a four-foot uphill putt is a far less annoying proposition than one of half that length across a keen slope.”
“The difference between a sand trap and water is the difference between a car crash and an airplane crash. You have a chance of recovering from a car crash.”
Okay, I can’t resist this What-Should-Have-Been take: On April 6, the University of Kansas basketball team should have won the NCAA National Championship in Atlanta. The Big 12 champions ended the season ranked No. 1 in the country. In fact, KU, which won its final 16 games, was the only team unanimously voted No. 1 all season. Bringing back the trophy to Lawrence, KS was a lock!
Continue To Focus On Distance,