The year was 1926. To put this in context, it was 96 years before I would meet the grandson of the first British Open “The Open” Champion and the first US Open Champion with back-to-back titles. Yes, I would meet Bobby Jones or Dr. Bob Jones IV. It wouldn’t be at Augusta National, the home of Bobby Jones or at Scioto Country Club, my childhood golf course, it would be in a parking lot at The Augusta Museum of History.
Time certainly puts a perspective on how we look at life. As I recount my family history with the game of golf, it seems so unimaginable how so many beginnings from those who walked the fairways before me would all add up to making me the man I am today.
Looking back, the 1926 US Open at Scioto Country Club, was the beginning of my family’s relationship with Bobby Jones and now the Jones Family.
It was this year, my great uncle Neil Postlewaite, would serve as the club President. Ten years after the Donald Ross fairways and greens had matured, Scioto would host America’s most prestigious national golf championship. A field filled with golf legends the likes of Gene Sarazen, Tommy Armour and Walter Hagen, the freshly crowned the British Open Champion, as an amateur, Bobby Jones would arrive in Upper Arlington to take the tee for his historic double wins just a fortnight apart.
At the young age of 24, Bobby Jones was on his way to accomplishing what no one before and no one after him would ever achieve. His 1930 Grand Slam victories, as an amateur, set the stage for an accomplishment golfers today still revere as the single greatest achievement of all time. I know I do.
It was growing up at Scioto where I began to not only learn about golf’s legends of the game and our own club history, it is where I came to understand the deeper meaning of integrity and the values Bobby Jones.
Today, the legacy of Bobby Jones rings true to my heart more than ever before. What comes to mind most is Bobby Jones amateur status. His love of the game superseded all other motivations. Not only was Bobby Jones a gentleman, he remains iconic to me in his beliefs that passion comes first.
Before there was ever the concept of endorsements, agents and sports management companies. It was a time when proving yourself against the course, the conditions and the competition around you was the driving force. Winning was about a personal best, not the fight for prize money. Giving up the highest purse ever, $500.00, Bobby Jones relinquished the biggest pro prize to second place, Joe Turnesa.
For Bobby Jones, relinquishing the prize money was never a doubt. His commitment to the purity of the game was a reflection of how he lived his life. His gesture was a symbolic message to all golfers that the game was meant to be played for passion and love.
His reward would come just four years later when he would win the first and only Grand Slam and retire from competition. At the age of 30, Bobby Jones would receive ticker tape parades in New York City, be vetted as the man who did what no one ever thought possible. All of these achievements would be completed as an amateur golfer.
These stories are how I grew up. They are what my father and Jack Nicklaus heard at the dinner tables as their fathers and uncles recalled those moments when they watched the Bobby Jones win at Scioto. These stories shaped their lives and their love of the game. It deepened their connection of what it means to be a great champion and a great man. These are the stories I grew up with, the stories that still ring true in my heart as I explore the life of Bobby Jones through the art and artists who captured his thoughts and essence.
Bobby Jones presence in our club house, his lasting legacy from his win here and those to follow, that would inspire and motivate, my grandfather and Charlie Nicklaus, as well as their two sons, one of whom would become the greatest winning golfer of all time, the other who would inspire me to find my path in the game he cherished.
It is for the love of the game, family, the respect for the past that motivate me. There is no doubt Bobby Jones influenced me as a child as he does today. This is a gift he passed on in his legacy. It is my turn to keep the memories and legacy alive, give them a new voice, so they can now and in the future touch the hearts of golfers as he touched mine.