Bobby Jones

Don Wassall

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 30, 2004
Messages
30,577
Location
Pennsylvania
Golfer Bobby Jones was the second most popular athlete in the U.S. in the 1920s and '30s after Babe Ruth. Like so many important figures from the past (dead White men), he's largely forgotten today except among golf aficianados.

I have some old Sports Illustrateds from when my stepfather subscribed and occasionally pick one and take a look at it when I have some spare time. They're quite interesting to me, as they capture a time I remember as a kid and I like to peruse the topics picked for each issue as well as look at the advertisements, which when not having a picture solely of the product being pitched always show well-dressed, classy White men and women, confident, content and happy but not in the silly over the top way of today's United Nations casts, who practically have orgasms while biting into a candy bar or a burger.

The September 23, 1968 cover of SI shows Al Kaline hugging an exuberant Denny McLain after McLain had just won his 30th game that season. McLain was the 47th pitcher to win 30 games but the first since Dizzy Dean in 1934 and the last unless baseball changes quite a bit from the way pitchers are used now.

The Jones article focuses on a series of 18 shorts made by Jones in 1931 and '33 in Hollywood and co-starring a variety of Hollywood celebrities of the time. Jones gave golf lessons to each of them during the short films, but they were also unscripted and often humorous as well.

This excerpt gives a description of how popular Bobby Jones was at the time in a vastly different America:

"To understand how such a series could have come about, it is necessary to appreciate the role that Jones himself played in the American scene at the time. By 1931 he had become more like the hero of a Hollywood movie than any sports figure in memory. He was 29 years old, handsome and self-possessed. He was an extraordinary golfer, but also a popular idol and a living symbol of the ideal sportsman. He suggested the hero of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel -- one of those high-spirited and engaging characters Fitzgerald liked to write about who knew everyone and went everywhere. When Jones reached New York after winning the British Open in 1926 the welcome given him was greater than that given General Pershing at the end of World War I. He was marched up Broadway amid rebel yells and flying confetti and ticker tape, with bands playing Glory, Glory to Old Georgia. 'Nothing like yesterday's demonstration ever took place in the realm of sports,' wrote one enthusiastic New York newspaperman the next day.

"Senators joined in the praise of Jones, adding a certain class to the proceedings that Hollywood's image-conscious moviemakers often found lacking in their own publicity. Senator George of Georgia wound up a speech on Bobby's golfing triumphs by saying solemnly, 'He has represented the very best in our life.' Eminent public figures never said such things about movie stars lounging around their yachts and swimming pools. Moreover, Jones managed to retain his natural, matter-of-fact air, which was even more surprising in Hollywood's eyes. He retired near the end of 1930 after his wondrous Grand Slam: winning the British Open, British Amateur, U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur championships in the same year. He lived quietly with his wife and three children in Atlanta, where, as the son of a distinguished lawyer, his position would have been assured had he never won a golf match."

Bobby Jones was from a time when the country wasn't just different demographically, but far different in the way people dressed and carried themselves. So much has been lost since then.

Here's a picture of Jones after winning the British Open and holding the Clarrett Jug:

bobby-jones-1927-1500-56a3d36b3df78cf7727f6d6f.jpg
 
Last edited:

BeyondFedUp

Hall of Famer
Joined
Oct 30, 2004
Messages
4,468
Location
United States
Thanks for posting this, Don. It could very well be that the only hope of recovering any resemblance of our former selves and forefathers is to in fact revisit things like this, to see who we were, where we came from and take stock of how far we've fallen. Humbling, but it should make us collectively jealous and angry at ourselves for a purpose.
 

Don Wassall

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 30, 2004
Messages
30,577
Location
Pennsylvania
I like the part about Jones being serenaded with "rebel yells" and bands playing "Glory, Glory to Old Georgia" during the ticker tape parade in his honor in New York City. New York City! How many Americans alive now would believe that happened?
 
Top