Bobby Jones:

I have long been interested in the great Bobby Jones and have wanted to learn more about him, especially after working at his old firm, Alston & Bird, out of law school (the firm was formed from the merger of Jones, Bird, & Howell and Alston, Miller & Gaines). Especially cool was the "Jones Conference Room", which had a bunch of pictures and Jones memorabilia, including a classic autographed picture of Bobby with President Eisenhower at Augusta (if I recall the details correctly). In particular, the veterans at the firm would speak in hushed and awed tones about what a remarkable man Jones was, and especially his depth of character and honor.

So I was very excited to get ahold of Mark Frost's book, The Grand Slam: Bobby Jones, America, and The Story of Golf. I had read great reviews of Frost's The Greatest Game Ever Played (I have this on my shelf to, but decided to read the Jones book first). I thought the book was ok, but not great. For my taste it gets bogged down in too much stroke-by-stroke description of tournaments on courses I've never seen, and insufficient insight into Jones and his personality. The ties to the events of the age (the Jazz Age and Great Depression) seem somewhat forced to me, unlike Laura Hillenbrand's glorious Seabiscuit. So while it is certainly a very readable and entertaining book, it may be of more interest as a book about golf than as a book about Jones.

I thought the best parts of the book were the early and beginning parts, which I thought had the best insights into how Jones grew into the hero he later became (learning the mental side of the game) and the later parts, describing Jones's retirement and dealing with his crippling medical condition (about the latter, Frost repeats Jones's great line to Al Laney, "You know, in golf we play the ball as it lies. Now, we will not speak of this again, ever."). Those were the times where I felt like I was getting to understand Jones and his persona a bit better.

I know that a slew of books and reprinted books have come out in the past years in honor of the 75th Anniversary of Jones's Slam (not to mention that the British Open is at St. Andrews again this year), so if anyone has any recommendations of books about Jones or his Grand Slam that you would recommend, especially as a complement to the Frost book, please recommend them in the Comments.

My wife and I were married in St. Andrews, in the "Bobby Jones Suite" at the Rusacks Hotel. The view over the golf course and the Road Hole was spectacular and the room was filled with framed photos, old newspaper articles, and paraphernalia. Mind you, neither of us golfs.

One item I recall is that later in life, Bobby Jones returned to St. Andrews and, with much pomp and circumstance, was awarded their version of the "key to the city" - an honor that had not been bestowed on an American since Benjamin Franklin. One of the perks of this, I kid you not, was that it gave Jones the privilege of hanging his laundry ("washing," as the Brits say) out to dry on the golf course.

There is no record of whether Jones ever took advantage of this offer. Unsurprising, since it seems to rain every day in Scotland.
7.14.2005 1:13pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I thought you were talking about the Mets pitcher.
7.14.2005 3:01pm
Rhodenhiser (mail) (www):
There is a good listing of Jones books on golfblogger. I have heard many people talk about Ron Rapoport's book The Immortal Bobby, so maybe try it.
7.14.2005 3:14pm
The ABA Litigation magazine had an article on his trials about a year ago
7.15.2005 1:02am
alan j ackerman (mail):
the book you want to read is Sir Walter and Mr. Jones by stephen lowe. in the nature of a dual biography you get the haig and jones for the price of one book read. the frost book on your shelf is better literature but does not reach jones
7.15.2005 7:36pm
Bobby Jones IV (mail):
Read this post somewhat by accident and thought I would give my opinion on the Bobby Jones literature question, especially since Bobby Jones was my grandfather.

The best overall book on Bobby Jones is Bobby: The Life and Times of Bobby Jones by Sidney L. Matthew. Matthew is a trial lawyer in Tallahassee who became interested in my grandfather while conducting a deposition in the Jones Room at the aformentioned A&B.

Of my grandfather's work, probably the most popular is Down the Fairway which is available in several different printings. My personal favorite is Golf Is My Game which contains my grandfather's mature thoughts on the golf swing, as well as his recollections of the Grand Slam, St. Andrews, and the building of the Augusta National Golf Course.

Bob Jones IV
1.17.2006 9:10am