A little rain failed to dampen the spirits of those who gathered for Friends of Bobby Jones Day at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
The annual event honors the life and memory of the game’s greatest amateur, a lifelong member of the club, who would have celebrated his 112th birthday on March 17.
The guest speaker was noted author and Jones historian Sid Matthew, who reminded the crowd that the record of winning four major golf championships in the same year is the oldest continuous record of success in the United State.
“Why do we celebrate Bobby Jones?” Matthew asked. “Because we have never seen anyone quite like him.”
Matthew reinforced the image of Jones as a sportsman by showing several newspapers clippings with negative headlines about Jose Canseco, Pete Rose and Michael Vick.
“We have let ourselves down in the hero department,” Matthew said. “Jones wasn’t just a hero on the golf course, he was a hero after 5 o’clock. What you see is what you get. There was never any smirking aspect of Jones, which is definition of a hero 24/7.”
Matthew told stories about many of Jones’ friends, including Atlanta Athletic Club members Charlie Yates, Watts Gunn, Tommy Barnes and Augusta National co-chairman Clifford Roberts. Matthew reminded the audience that Jones won 42 percent of the major championships in which he competed, compared to 30 percent for Tiger Woods, 17 percent for Ben Hogan and 12 percent for Jack Nicklaus.
“On top of the fact that he was a great golfer, he was just a great guy,” said Atlanta Athletic Club chairman Davis Stewart.
Dr. Tom Lisk, a Bobby Jones impersonator, told a personal account of how Jones won the 1930 Grand Slam, with special attention given to the U.S. Amateur.
Also present at the event were the Bobby Jones Scholars and members of the Georgia Tech men’s golf team, which had its exhibition postponed because of the rain.