by Dick Miller ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 27, 1980
In 1930 Robert Tyre (Bobby) Jones won all four of golf's major national championships--the British Open and Amateur, the U.S. Open and Amateur--and, at 28, retired forthwith: a living legend. But at his death in 1971 there had been few biographies, and this is the first since--a straightforward effort by a golf writer that concentrates on Jones' brief, spectacular, part-time links career. A tournament player from the tender age of six, Jones earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech, a B.A. in English literature from Harvard, and a law degree from Emory; in 1928 he passed the Georgia bar and joined his father's firm. Meanwhile he played against and beat not only the best amateurs but also the top pros of the era: Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Horton Smith, Joe Turnesa. Miller does a splendid job of evoking the hole-by-hole excitement of the Grand Slam chase--which started in the cold winds whistling about St. Andrews' Old Course and ended triumphantly in the oppressive September heat blanketing the Merion Cricket Club outside Philadelphia. He also offers a rounded portrait of the man. A quintessential Southern gentleman in public, Jones enjoyed his corn liquor (throughout Prohibition), smoked to excess, swore a blue streak, loved a good dirty story, and had a violent temper. Besides practicing law successfully, he developed profitable business ties with both Coca-Cola (as a franchised bottler) and A. G. Spalding (as vice-president for Southern sales). During World War II Jones, though 40 and a deferrable father of three, wangled an Army Air Force commission and served, often under fire, as an intelligence officer. In the meantime he'd been a co-founder of the Augusta National Golf Course, home of the Masters Tournament over which he presided until 1968, three years before his death. From 1956 on, he uncomplainingly endured the agonies of syringomylia, an incurable and progressively wasting disease of the spinal cord. To questions about his condition, he'd reply: ""Remember, we play the ball as it lies."" Miller hasn't Jones' terse expressiveness, but he doesn't sentimentalize his story--making this a convincing portrayal of a singular sportsman.
Pub Date: Sept. 27, 1980
Page Count: -
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1980
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