Jones’ Heir

Most everyone has that certain friend on social media who is always posting something funny.

You know the type. He or she is always pushing an endless stream of memes, videos or jokes that inevitably bring a smile.

Like this one: “If a cow doesn’t produce milk, is it a Milk Dud or an Udder Failure?”

Bob Jones IV is that guy for hundreds of his Facebook followers.

The grandson of legendary golfer Bobby Jones is a sports and clinical psychologist who practices in suburban Atlanta, and he says the lighter side helps him keep things in perspective.

“There’s a lot of different ways to go through life. You can be critical, bitter and resentful,” he said. “That’s just no way to live. It’s not healthy, simply not good or pleasant to be around. I choose to view things more positively and laugh.”

Much like his grandfather, Jones has a philosophical nature.

“It comes from my Christian faith. This life isn’t all that there is,” he said. “There is a greater purpose. When I keep that in perspective, it helps me to realize that 90 percent of the stuff we think is important really isn’t in the long run.”

Robert Tyre Jones Jr., affectionately called “Bub” by his grandson, is considered the greatest amateur golfer of all time.

Born on St. Patrick’s Day in 1902, he was a child prodigy who was good enough to compete in top events at the tender age of 14. But young Jones struggled to break through on golf’s biggest stages, and he even threw a tantrum at the Old Course at St. Andrews in 1921.

Two years later, Jones broke through to win his first major at the U.S. Open, and he took off. He won a major championship every year from 1923 to 1930, a total of 13 in all. It culminated with the Grand Slam in 1930 when he captured, in order, the British Amateur, the British Open, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Amateur.

At 28, he was on top of the sports world. But Jones had a secret.

Tournament golf took a terrible toll on him. Expectations for him to win were high, and he was the betting favorite whenever he teed off. It wasn’t unusual for him to lose several pounds during a competition.

In late 1930, just a couple of months after completing his Grand Slam, Jones announced he was retiring from competition. Amateur golfers received no money, and the burden of raising a family was beginning to take a financial toll.

Jones also wanted to pursue another dream: Find a suitable piece of land to build his dream golf course, and maybe one day have a small tournament for his friends.

Bob Jones IV still remembers the first time he saw Augusta National Golf Club. It was 1970, and he was 12.

“I will never forget, I came here in the dead of night – we had arrived by plane – and we stayed in the Jones Cabin,” he said. “And the next morning at 6:15 I woke up, walked out to the porch and all of a sudden I saw this property.

“Two things immediately hit me. No. 1 was I was going to start playing golf, but No. 2 was this place existed in my grandfather’s mind. And it just blew me away.”

Yes, Augusta National and the Masters Tournament were the things Jones envisioned when he retired from playing.

Jones had met Clifford Roberts, an investment banker who had made his mark on Wall Street. They joined forces to make Jones’ dream become reality. Before long, they had discovered a large piece of property in Augusta that had once housed a nursery.

Banner headlines in The Augusta Chronicle in the summer of 1931 announced that Jones had found his ideal spot for his course, and construction soon began. Dr. Alister MacKenzie was chosen as co-architect along with Jones, and the two collaborated with Jones hitting shots to test playability and MacKenzie using his skills as a master of camouflage.

Augusta National opened in late 1932, and the first Augusta National Invitation Tournament was held in 1934. Jones was coaxed out of retirement to play, creating a stir from coast to coast, but he was a non-factor as he failed to break par in any round and tied for 13th.

While his adoring public expected more of him, it was probably a bit much to expect the tournament host to win.

The golf course and tournament were immediate hits, something that doesn’t surprise Jones’ grandson.

“It still boggles my mind that my grandfather could conceive something that has held up this well to the test of time,” Jones IV said.

Bobby Jones played in the Masters 11 more times, the last coming in 1948, but he never improved on his initial finish of tying for 13th.

Not long after Jones played his final competitive round in the Masters, he played his final round of golf at East Lake in Atlanta.

In one of life’s cruel twists, the man who just two decades earlier had been at the top of the sports world could no longer play the game he loved.

Jones had been diagnosed with syringomyelia, a crippling spinal cord disease that eventually confined him to a wheelchair.

But Jones was still a force at Augusta National and the Masters, present for the next two decades even as his health declined. As the club’s first president, and later named president in perpetuity, he was on hand to witness the tournament’s growth and popularity with the arrival of such stars as Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

Jones died in December 1971. He was 69.

But thanks in large part to his grandson and other heirs, his legacy lives on.

With Jones IV as the public face and president of Jonesheirs Inc., the small group controls interests with the Bobby Jones name on a wide range of products ranging from whiskey to golf courses.

“I don’t get a salary, I’m as much as an amateur as Bub was playing golf,” he said. “My family said they were going to give me a 20 percent raise. That sounds good until you do the math.”

He’s proud of the recently opened Bobby Jones Golf Course in Atlanta. His grandfather hit the first shot and played one round on it when it opened in 1932, but the 18-hole course was short and cramped by modern standards.

Working with the late architect Bob Cupp, the course was transformed into a nine-hole layout that can be played in reverse. Plans call for the clubhouse to become the Georgia Golf House and it will eventually host the Georgia State Golf Association and the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame.

Jones IV is even prouder of the work his family is doing in conjunction with, the organization that helps educate and fund research for chiari and syringomyelia.

“It affects a lot of children and adults, and there really is no one to advocate and do research for these folks,” Jones said.

Adding the Jones name helps the organization and fulfills a desire from Jonesheirs to become involved with charitable work.

“For a long time Bub resisted doing that. He wanted his legacy to be golf,” his grandson said. “I think at this point Bub’s legacy in golf is pretty assured. We felt that was really almost a no-brainer kind of move for that.”

Have you seen this golf joke on Facebook?

The meme asks the question: “Golfers … want to shoot lower scores?”

Below the picture of a pencil with an eraser comes this: “This handy tool is 100% effective. Guaranteed.”

Bob Jones IV strikes again.

At the Behavioral Institute of Atlanta in Sandy Springs, he enjoys working with patients. Ironically, he hasn’t worked with any golf professionals, but he has worked with several junior and collegiate players to improve the mental side of their games.

“Understanding human behavior has always fascinated me,” Jones IV said. “Psychology tends to look at what’s wrong in a person. Sports looks at what’s going well and how can we make it better.”

He’s been practicing for 20 years, and he said he would “do it for free” if he could afford it.

“I’ve never had a day when I’ve woken up and said I’ve got to go to work today,” he said.

Asked what his grandfather would think about social media, Jones IV said “Facebook and Twitter would irritate the daylights out of him.”

The elder Jones was not only a gifted athlete but a scholar, too. He held degrees from Georgia Tech (mechanical engineering) and Harvard (English literature), and he passed the bar exam after one year of studying law at Emory.

“I think a lot of things we have now would blow his mind,” Jones IV said. “If he had lived from the entire period, and developed, he might have realized we are going through a paradigm shift such as when we had Gutenberg and the printing press. The way we take information and process it is like that time.”

Jones IV isn’t an Augusta National member, but he makes the short drive to the Masters each year and enjoys seeing old friends, making new ones and making the rounds.

“Life is good. Where I am now I wouldn’t trade for the world,” he said. “I’ve got a great wife, great daughter, two good dogs, a lot of good friends, and a lot of great places to play golf. It all works out.”

Article appears in the April 2021 issue of Augusta Magazine.

Article appears in the February/March 2019 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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