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History of The Open

Bobby Jones


Robert T Jones reflects on the life of his legendary grandfather

Bobby Jones poses with the Claret Jug after winning The Open in 1927

It's fair to say Bobby Jones left an indelible mark on the game of golf.

From winning his unique Grand Slam to co-founding Augusta National – and The Masters – his influence will live on forever.

Jones’s greatest golfing achievement is winning all four major tournaments of the time (The Open, the US Open, and the British and US Amateur Championships) in the same year, 1930.

With the change in the make-up of the major scene, it is a feat that can never be equalled.

But his legacy extends far beyond being the greatest amateur to ever pick up a club. Not just in a sporting context, but in the eyes of his family as well.

“Obviously the historical significance of what he did is beyond question,” said the grandson who shares his name, Robert T Jones.

“He was the first person to win both the Amateur and Open Championships in the same year since John Ball [in 1890]. So that's quite a feat in itself.

“Because of the victories in both of those tournaments, they were the precipitating events for him receiving his second ticker tape parade when he landed back in New York. And to this day he is the only golfer to have had two ticker tape parades.

[Astronaut] John Glenn had two, but he had to go around the world in space to do that!”

Bobby Jones

Jones won seven major titles - only six men have won more

Jones will be forever associated with Augusta, but his name will also be closely linked with The Open, having won the Claret Jug three times, in 1926, 1927 and most famously in 1930 when his victory at Royal Liverpool  the venue for The 151st Open this July  secured the second leg of his Grand Slam.

Although ‘Bub’, as he was affectionately known by his family, was too ill to share stories of his stellar career by the time his grandson was born, Robert T Jones knows all about his grandfather’s life on the golf course and how much the Championship meant to him.

He said: “The Open Championship, even back then, was the granddaddy of the open tournaments. Bub developed a very deep and abiding love for golf in the United Kingdom, particularly links golf.

There was a character and a quality to it and a strategic element to it that really appealed to him.

“One of the things Bub always liked about golf in the UK was when the courses would play hard and fast. He said the ideal would be when you step out onto the first tee and you hear the grass crunching under your spikes.

“Because back then, for the average golfer hard and fast worked better for them because they're playing shorter shots into the green, but for the more skilled player – and certainly for the Championship player – when a course played hard and fast, as many of those did back then, it created a whole different set of challenges.

“I think it appealed to his strategic mindset.”

Bobby Jones during a practice round at St Andrews

Jones in action during a practice round at St Andrews in 1927

The closest any golfer has got to matching Jones’s incredible Grand Slam was when Tiger Woods held all four modern-day majors at the same time; the Tiger Slam. Woods won three of the four in 2000 but had to wait until 2001 to add The Masters to his collection.

No golfer since Jones has won all four majors in the same year.

Indeed, most golfers go their entire career without even coming close to winning one of the big ones. Incredibly, not only did Jones win seven majors – only six golfers in history have won more – he had actually planned to win all four majors in the same calendar year.

“He actually set the goal in 1926,” revealed his grandson.

“When he won the US Amateur in 1925, when they were on the train back to Atlanta, he said to [golf writer and Bobby Jones's biographer] O.B. Keeler ‘you know O.B., I won the United States Open in ‘23, the Amateur in ‘24 and again in ‘25. If I could win a USGA title every year between now and 1930, that would be a pretty great accomplishment’.

“Which I think is interesting because it shows he already had 1930 in his mind as a stopping point, because remember he had no intention of turning professional, and he knew he had to get around to making a living [as a lawyer] at some point.

“After he won The Open in 1926 he came home and told my grandmother that he really believed he could win all four in the same calendar year and he felt like 1930 would be the year to do it because of how the tournaments would line up that year.

“He felt incredibly comfortable playing at St Andrews [the venue for the British Amateur Championship], because he'd played the Walker Cup there that year and he would win The Open there the next year, so he felt really comfortable about that.

“He liked Hoylake. He liked the way the course set up for his game, partially because back in those days it played around 6,700 in terms of yardage, which for 1930 that was a long course and he never shied away from long golf courses, so he just felt that both were good layouts for him. So he already had that in his mind.”

Bobby Jones competing in the British Amateur Championship at St Andrews

Jones tees it up at St Andrews

Robert T Jones, a psychologist, believes his grandfather, who was made an Honorary Member of Royal Liverpool Golf Club in 1969, had a unique, elite-level mindset which no doubt helped steer him on his path to greatness.

And there were a few examples of symmetry in his career which delighted him. His first appearance on British soil was in the 1921 Amateur Championship which took place in Hoylake, the same venue for his final, glorious, appearance at The Open.

“That is quite remarkable and that's something he would have liked,” said his grandson.

“My grandfather really loved that sort of thing, and I think it goes to his engineering mindset, he really loved things that were symmetrical. For example, he just loved the fact that his first major championship was at Merion in 1916. He won the Amateur Championship at Merion in 1924 and then in 1930 he finished his golfing career at Merion.

“And then we go over to the UK, his first Championship in the UK was at Hoylake and his last Open, his last Championship, was there as well.

“That's the kind of thing he would go nuts over, that's the kind of thing he just really liked.”